The Omani-Qatari joint venture, Al Hosn Investment Company SAOC (HIC), is preparing the groundwork for the establishment of a major land-based aquaculture project at Sur Industrial Estate, centring on the farming of barramundi — popularly known as Asian Sea Bass. The venture is the latest in a string of investments made by the JV — a 50:50 partnership between Qatar Holding (a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority), and Oman Investment Fund (OIF), a sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman.
Construction work on the aquaculture plant is expected to start before the end of this year or early in 2018, according to a high-level executive of Al Hosn Investment Company.
“We are initially looking at producing around 750 tonnes per annum of barramundi, rising to 1,500 tonnes in the next stage,” said Rumaitha al Busaidi (pictured), Aquaculture Specialist. “Our goal is to be operational by 2019.”
Speaking to the Observer, Rumaitha said the project will be based on recirculating aquaculture technology supplied by its technical partner, Denmark-based Inter Aqua Advance.
“This is a land-based recirculating system technology, which we chose based on the values of Al Hosn, which is to protect the local environment. With the use of a recirculating and integrated system, there is very little effluent that goes into the sea.”
Barramundi, the consumption of which is presently limited in the Sultanate, is primarily destined for export markets, according to the Aquaculture Specialist.
“At the moment, the domestic market for this type of high-end fish is quite low, so we are looking at the export market. Nevertheless, we have a plan to promote this fish in the Omani market as well. We are very confident that it will sell strongly because it’s a very good fish.”
Significantly, the project is among a portfolio of 24 private and public sector fish-farming ventures collectively valued at over $2 billion that are planned for implementation around the Sultanate over the coming years.
The Ministry of Agriculture of Fisheries has already approved six of these projects for early execution, with the remainder currently in various stages of review. They include ventures backed by international investors and technical partners.
Food related projects account for a sizable proportion of Al Hosn’s investments in the Sultanate. In addition to a 13.25 per cent stake in A’Saffa Foods — the largest integrated poultry project in the Sultanate — Al Hosn also owns a 10 per cent stake in Mazoon Dairy Company, a major integrated dairy farm and processing scheme under development in Buraimi Governorate.
Additionally, Gulf Mushroom Products — the largest mushroom farm in the Gulf — is 20.5 per cent owned by Al Hosn. Likewise, it also has an 85 per cent stake in Water and Life Agriculture, which owns and operates the first high-tech hydroponic greenhouse farm in the Sultanate, producing premium quality tomatoes and capsicum.