Oman Food unveils ambitious marketing, logistics strategies

MUSCAT, APRIL 24 –
The state-owned Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC), which has been mandated to implement the Omani government’s food security strategies, is firming up plans to establish, on the one hand, a fruit and vegetable marketing outfit, and on the other, countrywide food logistics networks.
Agreements were signed to this effect to fund feasibility studies as a first step in the rollout of these initiatives. Eng Saleh bin Mohammed al Shanfari (pictured), Chief Executive Officer of OFIC, signed the pacts in the presence of Dr Rashid bin Salim al Masroori, Executive President of the Public Authority for Stores and Food Reserve (PASFR).
Local consultancy firm Hail Agriculture has been commissioned by OFIC to chart a strategy for the establishment of a fruit and vegetable marketing outfit in the Sultanate. International business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has been tasked with studying the feasibility of developing logistics infrastructure serving the food sector in Oman. Timeframes for submission of final reports is about 12 months.
Speaking to the Observer, Eng Al Shanfari of OFIC said the objective behind the agricultural marketing outfit is to support the long-term development of a food hub in the Sultanate.
“The immediate purpose is to create a network of collection centres that will us collect the produce of Omani farmers cultivated according to certain specs and standards. This produce – chiefly fruits and vegetables – will be repackaged and distribution to local and potentially international markets.”
Asked if the collection system will be modelled on the lines of PAMAP — the erstwhile Public Authority for the Marketing of Agricultural Produce, Al Shanfari said: “We are learning from the lessons of PAMAP to see how we can create that is sustainable.”
As a collection system for farm produce, the initiative will be integrated in some ways with OFIC’s strategy for the development of food logistics infrastructure.
“Food logistics will cover all aspects of the value chain, encompassing transportation, storage and cold chain elements. This infrastructure will also cater to the requirements of other food companies operating in the Sultanate.”
OFIC, he said, is also working closely with ASYAD Group — the transport and logistics investment arm of the government — in the conceptualisation and development of food logistics infrastructure.
“We are collaborating with ASYAD on a number of initiatives that will make transform food logistics into something of an industry in itself and thereby support new and existing enterprises.”
Also on the occasion, OFIC signed agreements with local contractors for the start of preliminary construction activities linked to the development of its poultry farm and red meat projects.
Local Omani firm Abu Hatim has been given to nod to undertake the enabling works for the implementation of the RO 100 million project of A’Namaa Poultry, a subsidiary of OFIC, planned in Ibri Wilayat. Separately, Al Redha Contracting has been selected to prepare a site in Thamrait where the red meat project of Al Bashayer Meat Co — also an OFIC subsidiary — is planned.