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Milk collection scheme benefits Omani dairy farmers in Dhofar

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MUSCAT: A milk collection scheme launched by Dhofar-based dairy companies continues to benefit hundreds of retail Omani farmers whose fresh dairy milk produce now reaches consumers across the Sultanate of Oman.

The initiative is helping Omani households with dairy cattle, distributed across the hilly parts of Dhofar Governorate, earn sustainable incomes, according to a key official of a dairy company participating in the arrangement.

Nasser bin Mohammed al Harthi, Chairman – Dhofar Foods & Investment SAOG, a publicly listed food and dairy sector group, said the milk collection scheme agreed with majority state-owned Al Morooj Dairy, also has the backing of the Omani government.

“During (2022), [Dhofar Foods & Investment] started a domestic milk purchase scheme from Al Morooj Dairy Company SAOC,” Al Harthi said. “The company collects the milk from Dhofar (governorate) farmers at a pre-agreed price. The government provides subsidy for each litre collected. This initiative of government and private sector partners will boost the local farming activities and livelihoods,” the Chairman added in the company’s newly published Annual Report for fiscal 2022.

Dhofar Foods & Investment, previously known as Dhofar Cattle Company SAOG, operates a full-fledged dairy business through its A’Safwah Dairy & Beverages division, which runs one of the country’s largest single site dairy farms at Saada in Dhofar Governorate.

Al Morooj Dairy, which is an affiliate of Oman Food Investment Holding Company (Nitaj) – part of Oman Investment Authority (OIA), had revealed last year that it had entered into a co-packing arrangement with A’Safwah that would allow for it to benefit from the latter’s modern dairy processing plant in Salalah. Fresh dairy milk collected through this arrangement is processed into fresh pasteurised milk products at A’Safwah’s facilities.

As one of the largest players in the governorate, A’Safwah Dairy owns and operates a major livestock farm with a herd size of about 5,100 head of cattle – around half of them comprising adult Holstein-Friesian milking cows. While raw milk production averages around 65,000 litres per day, the division also produces and markets a range of juices and nectars as part of its diversified product portfolio. On average, around 160,000 litres of various A'Safwah products are despatched to markets primarily around Oman on a daily basis. Milk production alone totalled around 24 million litres in 2022, according to Dhofar Foods.

Besides strengthening its coverage of the domestic market, Dhofar Foods is also eyeing growth in neighbouring Yemen particularly as the political situation improves across the border. The company currently distributes its products in south Yemen and is eager to expand its marketing footprint. Negotiations are also under way with distributors in a number of African countries for exports of its long-life products, the company added.

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