AN initiative aimed at training orphans and widows to support themselves financially has been launched by the Royal Charity Organisation (RCO).
They will be provided with skills in farming and agriculture to help create a reliable source of income.
The project, under the patronage of His Majesty’s representative for charity work and youth affairs and RCO chairman Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, will be implemented in co-operation with the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry.
Two greenhouses at the Agricultural Incubators Centre in Hoorat A’ali will be allocated for the project, with each greenhouse accommodating four trainees.
More greenhouses may be provided in the future.
The training will include modern agricultural techniques, mainly hydroponics, producing high cash crops such as tomatoes, peppers, chillies, lettuce and other vegetables and fruits.
Participants will be trained throughout the cropping season, which begins around the end of September and lasts until the end of May.
Profits made by the end of the season will be given to the trainees, with the hope of providing them enough capital to begin their own projects.
There are around 11,000 registered widows and orphans at the RCO according to a spokeswoman at the organisation, who will send a list of members interested in the programme to the ministry.
“We will separate the members into groups based on their capabilities,” the ministry’s agricultural consultant Dr Mohammed Foda told the GDN.
“Once the groups are set up, we will create programmes to fit each group, so that by the end of it they will have all the knowledge they need to continue on their own.”
A start date for the programme has not yet been set. However, Dr Foda said it was best to begin at the start of the next cropping season.
“Ideally, we would like to teach them theory during the summer, and then begin the practical studies when the next season begins.”
New trainees will be taken in each season until all groups have been trained.
The GDN previously reported that the centre aimed to follow Singapore’s example in developing a high-tech farming system that does not require huge amounts of land or water – elements which are scarce in the kingdom.
In an effort to support local products over imports, the centre was built to teach small farmers and those interested in the field how to use hydroponic systems, minimising the use of land and water.
Hydroponics – the method of growing plants without soil – is remarkably efficient, using around 80 per cent less water than traditional farming techniques.