Omani research explores the efficiency of greenhouse production in Oman

Oman Tuesday 01/February/2022 16:52 PM
By: Times News Service
Omani research explores the efficiency of greenhouse production in Oman

Muscat: Among the many research projects submitted for the 8th National Research Award, organised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, ‘Investigating the efficiency of greenhouse production in Oman: A two-stage approach based on Data Envelopment Analysis and double bootstrapping’ by principal investigator Dr. Nawal Khamis Al Mezeini is among the 13 winning projects of the 8th edition of the award.

Winning in the Environmental and Biological Resources field of the PhD category, Dr. Nawal elaborated that Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) of greenhouse (GH) production is the first step to objectively assess the situation and build reliable tools to support stakeholders’ decisions, and is the first step to achieving more rational resource consumption, a key factor for a sustainable GH production.

Thus, this study investigated efficiency measures and sets benchmarks for GH production in Oman, and it examined the impact of contextual factors on GH efficiency using a double bootstrapping approach.

The DEA results revealed a high level of inefficiency among the GH farms, with an average technical efficiency of 73%, which is below the findings of similar studies where these scores ranged between 82% and 93%. Furthermore, the efficiency analysis showed that water and electricity were the major over-used resources, with excesses of more than 54% and 46%, respectively.

For further identification of potential sources of inefficiency and to support policy makers in setting regulations and developing future strategies, the impact of contextual factors, which are neither inputs nor outputs but can indirectly influence the efficiency of a GH, have been studied using double bootstrapping approach, according to Dr. Nawal.

She further stated that the results indicated that GH farmers who were employed in the government agricultural sector are likely to be the most efficient. Moreover, water salinity appeared as the most detrimental agent for GH efficiency. She maintained that the increased salinity of irrigation water is a direct consequence of seawater intrusion, caused primarily by groundwater over-pumping. The combined effect of the latter factors has been duly enhanced in the slack analysis where water and electricity were found as the most depleted resources.

To enhance the efficiency of greenhouse farms, Dr. Nawal recommended moretraining programs which focus on stimulating the farmers’ awareness regarding more rational consumption of the resources in order to achieve more sustainable GH production. For policies and regulations, she suggested that a regulated water framework is essential, as well as an appropriate revision of the government’s subsidy policies.

This research project was conducted at Sultan Qaboos University with a research team consisting of Dr. Nawal Al Mezeini, Dr. Amar Oukil and Dr. Abdulrahim AlIsmaili. The study was published in a refereed scientific journal entitled The Journal of Cleaner Production with high impact factor of 9.297.

When talking about her win, Dr. Nawal said “Not any research is expected to win the National Research Award which means that the quality of our research meets the quality standard and the vision of the award. So, winning the award make us proud of our achievement. It tells us that “we are in the right direction” which make us more confidant. Such award encourages and motivates us as researchers to work hard and to raise the quality of research”.