Strengthening food security: Nationwide network of outlets to support marketing of locally cultivated fruits and vegetables
The Agricultural Production and Marketing Company (APMC), a new outfit set by Oman Investment Authority (OIA) – the Sultanate’s integrated sovereign wealth fund – in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, plans to develop a network of around 80 outlets across the country to support the marketing of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
APMC was formally established in July 2020 as a subsidiary of Oman Food Investment Holding Company SAOC (OFIC) – part of Oman Investment Authority – to help boost the Sultanate’s food security through strategic investments in key segments of the food sector.
According to a high-level executive, APMC is now preparing to roll out a chain of outlets to support the marketing of all kinds of fruits and vegetables cultivated by Omani farmers’ associations, cooperatives and other local producers.
“APMC is about to start construction of the 80 outlets that we have promised the public,” said Ali al Shihhi, Vice President – Finance, Oman Food Investment Holding (OFIC). “These outlets will be developed all over Oman with the aim to market and sell Omani fruits and vegetables.”
The official made the announcement during a recent webinar on the theme, ‘Connecting Denmark to Oman’s Business Opportunities’, organised by Business Gateways International with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.
APMC is envisaged as an integrated entity that will specialise initially in the collection and marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally, and subsequently begin investing in the cultivation of high-quality produce targeted at local and overseas markets. Total investment in the outfit is estimated at RO 11.5 million. OFIC currently holds a 70 per cent stake in APMC’s equity with the balance made available for private investment.
According to OIA, the new marketing agency plans to eventually establish model farms in various governorates to cultivate fruits and vegetables suited to the local environment. These model farms, based on contract farming, will cater to premium markets by focusing on organic produce based on modern farming practices. The Ministry, for its part, will provide key guidance on the type of fruit and vegetable crops that will add further value to the economy by substituting for imports, for example.
“The project activities also focus on purchasing fruits and vegetables directly from farmers’ associations, agricultural companies, small and medium-sized companies and small farmers, and then sorting and packing them. The company's trading unit will work to import fruits and vegetables throughout the year from different countries based on the demand of the local market, and to export surplus products overseas,” according to OIA.
Investments in OFIC-backed ventures, currently totalling in excess of $1 billion, encompass dairy farming and processing, poultry and egg production, red meat processing, oilseeds crushing and animal feed production, dates and agro food processing, food innovation and veterinary pharmaceuticals, among other areas.