Domestic agricultural production in the Sultanate, encompassing a wide range of field crops, vegetables, fruits and perennial fodder crops, topped three million tons for the first time last year, buoyed by a strong resurgence in farm-based investments and activities.
Experts have attributed the uptick to a combination of factors: a government-driven emphasis on enhancing food security, the adoption of modern farming technologies such as greenhouses and hydroponics, growing public and private sector investments in supply chain support infrastructure and logistics, ready markets for locally grown produce, and a new wave of Omani entrepreneurship sweeping across the agro and farming sectors of the Sultanate.
According to the newly released 2019 Statistical Report of the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), local agricultural production climbed to an estimated 3.018 million tons in 2019, up from 2.951 million tons a year earlier. This compares with an output of 2.361 million tons in 2015, underscoring the steady growth of the sector in recent years.
Significantly, farmland brought under cultivation across the Sultanate has also been rising in trend with expanding agro output. It totalled 262,000 feddans in 2019, up from 217,000 feddans in 2015.
While Oman continues to be dependent on imports for a sizable proportion of its food requirements, it is getting closer to achieving self-sufficiency in meeting the country’s needs with regard to an array of fresh vegetables. Production of vegetables increased to 825,260 tons last year, up from 817,940 tons in 2018. Tomatoes – the mainstay of most local diets – accounted for nearly a fourth of this output, according to the NCSI report. Tomato output climbed to 201,293 tons last year, versus 199,232 tons in 2018.
Production also remained steady across a wide range of vegetable crops, including cucumber (73,983 tons), potato (15,766 tons), green pepper (65,331 tons), eggplant (30,895 tons), onion (9,163 tons), cabbage (19,162 tons), cauliflower (28,315 tons), okra (16,843 tons), raddish (3,060 tons), carrot (18,300 tons), and squash (10,656 tons). Watermelon (56,616 tons) and cantaloupe (33,813 tons) were also among an ever-expanding list of vegetables and fruits produced last year.
With expertise and technical support provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Omani farmers ramped up their cultivation of a range of field crops, output from which totalled 25,483 tons in 2019, up from 25,008 tons a year earlier. Key crops included wheat (3,615 tons), barley (1,901 tons), and maize (8,916 tons).
Date production has been growing year-on-year, rising to 376,850 tons last year, up from 368,808 tons in 2018. Dates accounted for the lion’s share of the estimated 468,000 tons harnessed from Oman’s fruit orchards last year. Making up the remainder were, among other types of fruit, coconut (6,709 tons), lemon (7,189 tons), mango (16,006 tons), banana (18,447 tons) and papaya (5,830 tons).
Importantly, production of fodder crops totalled around 1.7 million tons last year, accounting for around half of Oman’s total agricultural output. Rhode grass, with an output of 1.191 million tons, was the single biggest fodder crop, followed by alfalfa (405,585 tons) and sorghum (49,823 tons).
Domestic livestock populations also grew last year, according to the NCSI report. Cows numbered around 405K (397K in 2018), camels 273K (268K in 2018), sheep 617K (605K in 2018) and goats 2,348K (2,303K in 2018).