On the way to food security
The Sultanate with its natural and geological composition is preparing to domestically secure safe amount of staple food. In this regard, the government, on the directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, is seeking to enhance agricultural production to meet the increasing demand for food.
One of the major milestones on the way of achieving food security in the country has been the planting of over one million fruit trees in the recent past.
These trees along with millions more to be planted are expected to produce very large amounts of local fruits by 2023.
According to figures available from the Ministry of Agriculture, 1,221,433 fruit saplings have been planted at agricultural research gardens between 2011-2017.
“People living in the Sultanate can expect to see a very large increase in the number of locally-grown fruits in a few years”, said Dr Hamdan al Wahaibi, Acting Director General of Agricultural and Livestock Research.
Agriculture has been identified as one of the key areas for potential expansion in Oman and the country is looking at ways to diversify its economic output.
“Agriculture sector is aiding food security in the Sultanate, which is valued at 56 per cent of the total monetary value of the country’s food consumption”, said Dr Hamdan.
The largest number of new trees were limes numbering 682,180 plants, followed by mangoes and lemons, as well as oranges.
Coconuts, bananas and grape vines were also planted.
Among the most ambitious projects being undertaken in Oman’s agricultural sector is the Million Date Palm Plantation Project, which was commissioned by the Royal Court.
The initiative uses the latest advances in agricultural science to cultivate the fruit, but also aims to serve as a focus for a transformation in the way the national crop is harvested, processed and marketed.
According to Dr Hamdan, a total of 324,451 date trees of various sorts were planted at the agro-textiles centre between 2013 and 2018.
The Sultanate is one of the countries with different types of plants. Its territory grows a large variety of plants, fruit trees and various crops in summer and winter. Jabal Al Akhdhar tops the list of the production of fruits. They are known for the diversity and multiplicity of types.
Fruits from the mountain region include pomegranates, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, almonds, walnuts, grapes, pears, cherries, figs and olives. There is also distillation of rose water.
In some villages and mountains of the wilayats of the Governorate of South Al Batinah, species of fruit trees grow, including Wakan village in Wadi Mistal in the Wilayat of Nakhl, which are known for the production of boot and apricots.
A number of villages in Wadi Bani Kharous in the Wilayat of Al Awabi are characterized by the production of boot fruits, which are one of the summer seasonal fruit that grows in the highest mountain peaks.
There is also production of custard-apple fruit (Annona), which grows in a number of the north and south wilayats of the Sultanate. It is very delicious in the summer and has many health benefits.
Some of the governorates have large farms with watermelons, melons, grapes, figs and guava.
The coast of the Governorates of North and South Al Batinah and inland areas are characterized by the production of many fruit crops that require high temperatures, such as date palms, mango, banana and papayas.
The rainy-summer coast during monsoon season in the Governorate of Dhofar are known for the production of coconut, bananas, papayas and pomegranates.
People living in the Sultanate can expect to see a very large increase in the number of locally-grown fruits in a few years DR HAMDAN AL WAHAIBI Acting Director General of Agricultural & Livestock Research