The Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre will see the return of the annual Bahrain International Garden Show (BIGS) from February 22 to 25 this year. The show, held under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is the vision and foresight of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of the King of Bahrain, to promote the agriculture sector in the Kingdom.
“BIGS is the flagship event organised by the National Initiative for Agricultural Development [NIAD], which is an administrative body that supports the growth and development of the country’s agricultural sector,” says Shaikha Maram. “The show is a platform for new businesses to advertise their goods and services to the public, create new trade partnerships and review the latest developments in the field. It is also an occasion to spread awareness and education on various related topics.”
BIGS still retains its two-pronged purpose – commercial benefits to professionals and the spread of awareness amongst Bahrain’s populace. Shaikha Maram says: “This year’s theme is food safety, starting from the time the seed is chosen, planted, nurtured, harvested, processed, packaged and sent to the markets, till it is purchased for consumption. Safety procedures in each of these stages will be highlighted: the responsibility to ensure that the produce growing is safe for consumption, handling produce while harvesting, packaging and transporting for sale, correct storage in the marketplace, and finally, focusing on how the consumer can keep food fit for eating, and know when it’s not wise to eat it.”
The show will have two zones: Hall 1 – The Market Zone, and Hall 2 – The Awareness Zone.
Speaking about Hall 1, Shaikha Maram explains: “Many a start-up has launched their goods and services at the Garden Show as the first attempt to tell the public about what they offer, and there are a couple of such new companies this year as well. For me personally, that is a matter of great pride, as it proves that the show has successfully played the role of a catalyst in bolstering this industry. There is much bigger investment in agricultural companies than before, showing that this platform, created back in 2004, is serving its purpose.
“Hall 2 is occupied by government institutions, private sector companies, NGOs and educational institutions. All participants are required to make their stand informative, and the best ones get awarded for their efforts. In the past, we have come across some excellent displays and this really goes a long way to spread knowledge in society, especially as we have students from several schools visiting us.”
Each year, NIAD strives to improve the quality of the show to garner greater public interest. The last show had 155 exhibitors and a footfall of over 45,000 visitors over an area of more than 7,000sq/m. “Our regular participants go the extra mile to bring something that is unique to the event to attract people’s attention,” she says.
She points out that Bahrain, like other Gulf countries, has come a long way in encouraging local farming and is doing its bit to make it a sustainable occupation. “Although our resources like land and water are limited, we are producing more than what we were before,” she adds. “In the olden days, the biggest industry in Bahrain was agriculture. But with oil, property and telecommunications taking centre stage, farming took a back seat. Today, everybody realises that it is not a luxury but a necessity to increase self-reliance, and hence, the efforts to grow locally and reduce imports is the focus.
“The variety of stalls at the show will greatly interest adults and children, and I extend a warm invitation to everyone to come and enjoy it. All are welcome!”