By Gulam Ali Khan
The option for Oman to boost its food security by investing in overseas farmland is still open, with interest shown by 'a number of countries,' according to H E Dr Fouad bin Ja'afar al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Investing overseas is just one avenue open to the country, as it also looks to enhance domestic agriculture production by modernising production techniques, H E Sajwani added.
Speaking to Muscat Daily on the sidelines of the launch of Oman India Fertiliser Company's (OMIFCO) new bagging unit in Sur on Monday, the minister said the government is studying the option to invest in farming overseas.
He said, "The option is still open and we have received invitations from a number of countries. But the decision is yet to be made, as we are working on the technicalities of overseas investments."
However, despite overseas interest, H E Sajwani emphasised that real enhancement in food production and food security has to come from within the country and the government has many projects in the pipeline for the next few years.
He said, "We are embarking upon many steps. Among them the shift from traditional to modern agricultural techniques is most important.
"We have projects for managing available limited resources like water more effectively, use of greenhouses and modern irrigation systems and also supporting production of dairy products, aquaculture, supporting livestock owners and food processing activities in the country."
H E Sajwani said that private sector participation - both from within the sultanate and outside - is necessary for Oman to step up production levels and boost food security measures.
He said, "We are asking entrepreneurs in Oman and other countries to come and seek opportunities available in the agriculture and food sector here.
"There is a lot of capacity to be developed in the country. We are working on both sides - within Oman and outside - to enhance national food security."