Oman moots Tanzania farming bid
MUSCAT, OMAN-- Oman plans to set up farms in Sudan and Tanzania in order to reduce its dependence on food imports.
“We are also going to do external investments in Tanzania and Sudan,” said Mustafa Al Riyami, coordination and follow-up specialist at the Public Authority for Stores and Food Reserve.
“We will have wheat farms and animal farms. This is the plan for the future in order to have food security,” he was addressing a news conference.
“The output for these farms will not be the same as in recent years,” he added. “It will take time for sure, but it is a strategic plan we have in place. It will take at least 15 to 20 years to start producing from these farms.”
“We are not expecting to increase our income from these farms very soon,” Al Riyami continued. “The second thing is that we might invest these crops outside as well. We might sell these to some other countries and we may make money from that.”
“The investment will be from both sides: either to get our own commodities or to invest this outside and get money from it.”
Investing in Africa will see Oman follow a development path taken by China, which has steadily built up massive businesses overseas. The Chinese have invested more than $1.3 trillion overseas since 2005. Oman’s plans to become more secure on the agricultural front are part of the nation’s plans to raise agricultural contribution to 3.1 per cent of the GDP by 2020. It is currently pegged at 0.7 per cent, totalling OMR224 million. As part of Oman’s Vision 2020 plan, an organisation has been set up to invest in food security.
“There is a semi-government company, the Oman Food Investment Holding Company that acts as an investor for Oman, both inside and outside the country,” Al Riyami told the Times of Oman.
“There are many projects it is working on. One of these is to build a big farm in Buraimi to produce milk and white meat. I am sure you have heard of the one million date trees project in Oman. It is one of the longterm projects designed to promote food security in Oman.”
Currently, about 60% of the Sultanate’s food products are imported, but Al Riyami is hopeful that the new wave of agricultural investment will that bring figure down sharply.
“We are importing about 60 per cent of our food right now, but if, and I say if, our targets are met with this investment, this importing will be very less,” he explained. “Local production will be about 80 per cent and imports will be about 20%.” Agencies
SUPPLY CHAIN: The bulk of Omani foodstuffs are imported and the government believes investing in Tanzania and Sudan could help ensure food security