With agriculture and fisheries forming the central part of the Sultanate of Oman’s economy and society, a positive impact has been noticed among social security households in terms of ensuring food availability. The leadership under His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik devotes utmost attention to the issue of food security and food supply and has developed a wide array of plans and programmes focused on the security and sustainability of food supply for nationals and expatriates.
Even as most sectors witnessed a slowdown after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, agriculture and fisheries showed significant combined growth of 9.8 per cent to reach RO 571 million by the end of September 2020. Support for innovative government-backed dairy products, red meat and poultry projects continue to boost production and provide investment opportunities, while niche segments such as organic farming need more robust regulation.
Food production from agricultural, fisheries and animal sectors increased from 1.7 million tonnes in 2011 to 3.9 million tonnes in 2019. As a result, the total contribution of agriculture and fisheries sectors in the total food consumption amounted to 53 per cent in 2019 compared to 36 per cent in 2011.
A number of new programmes were launched to capitalise on the potential of individuals and households, engage them in the development process and empower and enable them to become productive and self-dependent.
These programmes sought to turn social security households into self-dependent ones; invest in their capabilities, and support them at administrative, technical, and financial levels in the management of SMEs.
According to the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy towards 2040, the combination of priority policy reforms and targeted investments is intended to create a more conducive framework and enhance the quality of public service delivery.
“This should, in turn, enable the more active participation of private investors while ensuring long-term sustainability”, it says.
The strategy aims to increase water productivity and the overall value of the country’s production by growing high-value crops, introducing the widespread adoption of good agricultural practices, minimising losses and adding value through packaging and processing, differentiation, branding, etc.
The Sultanate of Oman is forging ahead with development plans in all segments to open up new pathways to growth.
Investment priorities include establishing post-harvest infrastructure in key production areas like Al Batinah and supporting farmers to supply these facilities with the required quality standards.
The Sultanate of Oman is striving to maintain its agricultural acreage to preserve agricultural lands and allow workers in the farming sector to settle down in their villages. They contribute to the sustainability of this sector, promote its productivity and play a role in achieving food security, and protect the Omani environment from change and deterioration.
The strategy also aims to add value to livestock production and reduce its numbers to sustainable levels without compromising the environment. Investment priorities include establishing milk collection systems in order to strengthen the raw material base of the national dairy industry; providing animal health (e.g., diagnostic labs) and cold chain infrastructure (e.g., abattoirs for poultry cooperatives, refrigeration trucks); and rehabilitating rangelands in the Salalah area.
In the same vein, the Government is currently executing construction projects of protection walls for farms located on the banks of wadis to prevent their deterioration due to precipitation and wadi floodwaters.