Camels seen grazing on a patch of grassland outside Doha.
DOHA: A number of cattle owners in remote areas of the country are bitterly critical of the environment ministry’s recent decision to extend the ban on grazing for another two years.
Many of them said they had lost a lot of their stock due to the continuing restrictions on grazing and suffered financial losses that run into hundreds of thousands of riyals.
At least one owner, commenting on a local social networking site, has made fun publicly wondering where the “so-called green patches in the country are”.
“My cattle are sick and I know there is nothing for them to graze. We don’t have enough greenery. Do we?” asked the citizen.
Grazing is just an excuse. “What we actually want is that our cattle come out of the barn and venture into the open. They need sufficient exposure to sunlight. They need to be out for a while.”
Commentators said they thought that due to the problems cattle owners faced, as they reported diseases among their cattle and large-scale deaths, the ministry would lift the ban on grazing.
“We had been reading in newspapers for the past two months that the ban would be removed so the recent extension of the restrictions has come in as a surprise,” said another commentator. “We are shocked.”
It is important that the cattle are herded out of their barn for a while everyday so their health is good. “That prevents them from blindness. Many of my cattle have turned blind now.”
The commentator said the cattle were now dependent entirely on fodder, which is not good for their health.
“I have lost many cattle and tens of thousands of riyals as a result.”
When the ministry announced the ban two years ago it said the move was aimed at helping expand the green cover in the country.
“Where has the green cover increased in those two years? Instead, we see barren land all over and our cattle have died en masse. What we have actually seen in these two years is only death of cattle,” said another commentator.
The new environment minister visited a few cattle barns in the North of the country after he took over recently so hopes were re-lived that he would order lifting of the ban on grazing. But that didn’t happen, rued the commentator.
Many cattle owners have moved to neighbouring countries due to the ban, he claimed.
If the ministry wants to expand greenery, instead of banning grazing, it should stop the dumping of sewage and construction waste in these areas.
“And, the other major threat to green patches in remote areas is reckless car driving and stunts and other dangerous motor sports by youngsters. That also must stop, and the ministry must plant trees all over,” said the commentator.