While we are all aware of the goodness of organic farming, there is only one such farm in Oman in Barka that has received American and European accreditation. Welcome to Pairidaeza – ‘heaven’ on earth!
5 March 2018: Pairidaeza or ‘Paradise’ in Persian language is a unique notion conceptualized and diligently brought to fruition by Narjes Mohammed Mirza. There are many firsts that Pairidaeza can be credited with – it is the first farm that grows organic food, it is the first initiative by an Omani woman who started retailing in 2016 and continues to be the only national to do so and now, it is the first to have received American and European accreditation.
Covering an area of 10 acres, Pairidaeza in Barka is OneCert certified, EU Organic Certified and USDA Certified which is not a small feat. A product can be labelled organic when it has followed and compiled with specific international rules for organic farming that is checked every year. In other words, it is assurance to the consumers that what is being purchased is truly organic and that its integrity has been maintained throughout its journey from the farm to the plate. Most important, it is a misnomer that the product has to be exorbitant if it is organic. There is a difference, but it is worth it when the food actually tastes delicious and is healthy as well.
Narjes started organic farming as a passion and wanting to put the healthiest food for her grandchildren. She started by showcasing her goods at Souq Es-Sabt, the weekend market at The Wave that is held from November to February and in no time, she was catering to clientele that had become regular buyers. Different types of lettuce, rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, peas, potatoes, lemon, corn and countless herbs were much in demand. The vegetable list soon broadened to include pickles, vegetable stock, tomato pesto, olive oil and different cheese such as halloumi and labneh.
In 2016, Narjes started retailing. Goods from Pairidaeza can now be picked at Carrefour, Spar, Lulu, Sultan Centre and Mars and the demand is only increasing. But what is heartening for Narjes is that more and more people are becoming aware of the goodness of organic food and are stocking up on fresh produce that are bursting with flavours and nutrients. It makes all the effort that goes into caring for the plants worthwhile as no chemicals or pesticides are used on the plants. In short, the only alternative if a plant cannot be saved by using natural techniques if it is infected, is to remove it. Likewise for the livestock. The animals are cared for and ensured they are kept in clean surroundings and enjoy a healthy diet without antibiotics and medications.
So what next? “We may look at growing organic fruit or even start an organic café,” states Narjes. The fact that everyone is understanding the benefits of organic food and that it is grown right here in Oman itself, is a huge step and we look forward to what else comes out of Pairidaeza!