Muscat, Jan 23 – The two-day Agricultural, Fish and Food Investment Forum began at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday.
It aims at activating the participation of private sector in agricultural and fisheries investments in the Sultanate and enhancing the role of sustainable development.
The forum will look at opportunities in these areas, the funding of food security projects, food systems innovation and techniques as well as public-private sector partnership with an emphasis on economic diversification.
It is organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The forum and an accompanying exhibition was inaugurated by His Highness Sayyid Asaad bin Tareq al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations
and Cooperation Affairs, and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan.
In a statement, he said the forum offers many proposals on agricultural, fish and food investment, pointing out that figures on this investment “bode well” and have reached a stage from which it can compete at all levels, including international.
He said the yield of agricultural and fish sectors was “on the rise”; it will increase further if the agricultural products are protected from pests.
Speaking to the Observer after the inauguration, he said: “There is a lot of education here. I was very pleased to hear about the growth of all the products. I hope the younger generation takes up these opportunities. One day Oman will be a world food supplier.”
Dr Fuad bin Jaafar al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, in his working paper titled ‘Food Production and Food Security System in the Sultanate: Achievements and Future Plans’, reviewed the challenges facing food security at the global level and reviewed the performance indicators of food production in the Sultanate.
He said: “Apart from high returns on investment, the agriculture and fisheries sectors can also participate in diversification of economy, contribute to GDP and create job opportunities for young Omanis.”
Dr Sajwani said Oman has 45 warehouses across the country: North Batinah 13, Muscat 15, Dakhiliyah 4, South Sharqiyah 9 and Dhofar 4. Under construction are 17 mega projects in agriculture in addition to poultry, dairy, livestock and dates. The total number of projects in fisheries and aquaculture are 91, which have come from the Tanfeedh fisheries lab.
In the pipeline is the construction of the biggest artificial coral farm in the Middle East. The fisheries strategy also includes focus on lantern fish.
The 24 ports as well as the two being developed will have more projects around them.
Barka is expected to see more projects. Fishing ports are being planned to develop tourism projects. Aquaculture is being promoted as one of the major areas of development.
On the cards are integrated projects for SMEs. Besides fisheries projects in Duqm, food processing and vegetable production hubs have been planned.
An area that is being explored is the potential to produce halal food. “Today there is a huge market for halal food across the world. We hope to meet the market requirements of the region. We are talking about a $1.8 trillion market for halal food worldwide. You can imagine how huge the market is and how we can benefit from it,” Dr Sajwani noted.
Dr José da Silva, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), stressed the importance of agricultural, fish and food investment and the importance of sustainable development and conservation of natural resources.
The DG of FAO said aquaculture is growing, which means one-third of the fish produce in the region comes from aquaculture. But the region still imports fish.
“Captured fish will be limited in the future. It is a great opportunity for investment. On the other hand, another area of growing importance is food safety and the need to move towards fruits, vegetables and fish,” he said.
According to Dr Hamed Said al Oufi, Under-Secretary of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, some of the opportunities are the biodiversity available in the more than 3,000 km coastal line, airports, high-quality fish processing, artisanal and skilled fishing, strategic location of the ports, investor-friendly laws and political stability.
The post 17 mega farm projects to boost food security appeared first on Oman Observer.