On the way to food se­cu­rity

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - SA­MUEL KUTTY MUS­CAT, NOV 9

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

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