Sultanate has competitive advantage of food security

SALALAH, JAN 7 – Oman has moved from importing all its food items to import substitution by creating more and more projects in the sector. These projects are being developed locally and have potential for big expansion.
This was stated by Saleh bin Mohammed al Shanfari, Chief Executive Officer of Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC), in an interview with the Observer during the launch of Al Morooj Dairy’s ambitious milk project in Salalah.
He termed the milk collection project a good example for the Sultanate’s drive to identify local strengths to boost food security in Oman.
“The food security projects that we can do locally are based on competitive and comparative advantages, as we are aiming to become a food hub of the region in the long run.”
The areas which Saleh al Shanfari finds easily accessible are fisheries, poultry, red meat, and fruits and vegetables. Some projects have started showing results and have emerged as role models for future projects.
Speaking about competitive and comparative advantage, Saleh al Shanfari spoke about the very location of Oman, which according to him, is accessible for most of the Arab and African horn countries.
“It is easy thus for the big grain producers to redistribute their products by setting up packaging centres for local as well as regional distribution,” he said, and added that the Sultanate keeps on looking for smart technologies to explore local products and make a substitute for food security by boosting in-country resources.
He cited the example of the latest milk collection project, which has capacity to grow in a big way as the Dhofar Governorate has strong livestock population and their products were not being used properly.
“This has not only potential to provide food security, but it also has the potential to create new jobs, farmers have the option to get rewarded for keeping cattle and camels and, most importantly, the customers have access to fresh dairy products,” he said.
He put stress on marketing of agriculture products of whatever amount produced in-country to create an atmosphere for production and proper market chain.
He also called for the setting up of more and more food processing units to boost food security and more jobs in the sector.