By Staff Reporter — MUSCAT: Jan. 25 – Oman has earned second position among Arab countries and the 25 position as per the annual report on the global index of food security for the year 2016. It was also ranked within the excellent environments in the world. This was stated by Dr Fuad bin Jaafar al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, when the State Council hosted him on Wednesday to discuss food security among other issues. Dr Al Sajwani gave a presentation titled “Agriculture and Fisheries and Food Security System” in the presence of Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh al Mantheri, Chairman of the State Council, and Dr Khalid bin Salim al Saidi, Secretary-General.
Quoting statistics, the minister said that the cultivated area has increased from 181,000 in 2011 to 197,000 acres in 2015, which indicates a growth rate of 1.3 per cent. In addition, the total vegetable production rose to 1,773,000 tonnes in 2015, from 1,387,000 tonnes in 2011, an average growth rate of seven per cent. With regard to animal production, in 2015 it was about 217,000 tonnes compared to 149,000 tonnes in 2011, an average growth of 15 per cent, while the total fish production average growth record of 13 per cent, up from 150,000 tonnes in 2011 to 257,000 tonnes in 2015.
He stated that the combined average growth rate achieved by these sectors is 4.7 per cent, which is better than many countries in the world and indicated that the self-sufficiency of the total food production is 41 per cent. The minister reported that the percentage contribution of the agricultural and fishery sectors to the GDP in 2015 reached 6.1 per cent, a high percentage compared to the GCC and global figures. He detailed the challenges of the agricultural and fisheries sector, which includes limited water resources, decline in available agricultural land, fragmented agricultural fields, poor cropping pattern causing erosion of soil and depletion of water resources and unskilled expatriates, limited government sector investments and the reluctance of young Omanis for agricultural work.
In addition, he added that the basic weakness of marketing infrastructure and high wastage rates is challenging. The minister stated that the agricultural and fisheries sector offers several opportunities due to its advantages such as large fish stocks and livestock estimated at more than 4.3 million and its growth rates and promising 6.7 million palm trees, owing to the strategic geographic location and diversity of climatic and environmental privileges. The FAO has been a strategic partner in the agriculture and fisheries sector in Oman.
Regarding the Agricultural Sector and Fisheries (2020/2040) Strategy, he pointed out that sustainable agriculture and rural development strategy preparation (2040) and investment (2020-2016) and joint coordination between the national team and FAO has led to the development of the fisheries sector strategy preparation (2013-2020), and the strategy for the development of the fisheries sector (2040-2020). It has activated joint coordination between the national team and the World Bank.
All these initiatives have enabled drawing a roadmap for the advancement of sustainable agricultural sectors and fisheries until 2040. The minister expects to achieve high rates of self-sufficiency in food commodities after the completion of major investment projects, and items like dates, fish are expected to achieve self-sufficiency by increasing 100 per cent by 2020.