Major investments plan for date palm-based industries in Oman

Landmark venture: Production of food derivatives, animal fodder and timber envisaged from date palm crop

Investments are envisioned in a string of industries that will capitalise on the enhanced commercialisation of the date palm sector

Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT –
Jan 4: The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries says it is working with Oman Food Investment Holding Company SAOC (OFIC), the government’s agricultural and farming investment arm, to harness the commercial potential of the nation’s date palm sector beyond the current focus on the harvesting and marketing of dates.
Tentative plans drawn up by the ministry envisage an array of industrial activities that will exploit the commercial potential of not only dates, but also date palm byproducts and tree trunks through value-added processing.
Thus, in addition to valuable food and pharmaceutical related ingredients and derivatives produced from dates, the ministry also foresees the potential for the production of animal fodder and timber from the date palm crop.
The initiative is part of an expanding portfolio of projects currently under various stages of study, design and implementation by the wholly government owned Oman Food Investment Holding Co in pursuit of the nation’s food security strategy.
Investments are envisioned in a string of industries that will capitalise on the enhanced commercialisation of the date palm sector, which accounts for over eight million trees and more than 50 per cent of the Sultanate’s total agricultural output.
Notable is the potential for manufacturing derivatives, such as vinegar, medical alcohol, and so on, from dates, according to the ministry. Aggregate production is estimated at 30,000 tonnes per year.
Also under consideration is the production of a 50,000 tonnes per annum of animal fodder from date palm byproducts. Furthermore, the study sees the potential to extract 25,000-35,000 tonnes of timber from date palms.
Besides, around 30,000 tonnes per annum of dates are proposed to be processed and marketed as part of this groundbreaking scheme, according to the ministry.
OFIC is investing around RO 270 million in the implementation of four strategic ventures as part of its mandate to enhance the nation’s long-term food security objectives. Mazoon Dairy, a subsidiary of OFIC, is pursuing an ambitious plan to develop a world-scale dairy project in Al Buraimi Governorate. Al Namma Poultry is in the early stages of executing an equally substantive white meat venture in Dhahirah Governorate. Also on the anvil is a red meat project, and a milk collection and processing cooperative planned in Dhofar Governorate.