PDO backs major desert agriculture project

Business Tuesday 20/April/2021 17:50 PM
By: Times News Service
PDO backs major desert agriculture project

Muscat: Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has signed an agreement with the Agriculture Production and Marketing Company (APMC) to plant crops and 500,000 trees in the desert over the next 10 years.

The Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) focuses on a 35km2 tract of land at Rahab in the south of PDO’s concession area.

The new scheme contributes to the need for a “green and circular economy that addresses national needs and moves consistently with the global trends” outlined in the Oman Vision 2040 that serves national environmental, food security and In-Country Value (ICV) objectives.

It is also part of the initiative launched by the Environment Authority and PDO on Oman Environment Day in January 2020 to plant 10 million indigenous trees by 2030 to rejuvenate pastures and grazing lands and help offset the country’s carbon footprint.
Under the terms of the latest agreement, PDO will lease the site to the APMC, which will provide and operate the necessary infrastructure, related facilities and services for tenants, market and buy their goods, as well as promote the area to farmers and investors.

Half a million trees and a variety of edible and non-edible crops will be grown, creating jobs in the agricultural sector, supporting Omani SMEs and potentially supplying fresh food to Oman.

It is envisaged that the location could become a tourist attraction as well as serve as a research and development testbed for new technologies in areas such as irrigation and clean energy.

The MOC was signed on April 20 by PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci and APMC Chairman Adnan Al Alawi at a virtual ceremony.

Restucci said, “This project is fully aligned with the Oman Vision 2040 in that it will deliver significant environmental and economic benefits for the nation and be an exemplar of sustainable development. It will boost biodiversity, reduce the need for imported agricultural products and create job and investment opportunities for Omanis. There is a good supply of water at the location and plenty of potential to grow food for our operations and beyond, while supporting the drive to “green” the desert embodied in the nearby plot for the One Million Date Palm Trees project.”

Eng. Al Alawi explained, “This constructive co-operation between PDO and APMC shall contribute in supporting many environmental, economic and social aspects, as well as creating jobs for the local community, supporting small and medium enterprises and companies associated with agricultural production and marketing.

“This collaboration will also result in increasing the local production of fruits and vegetables, which will significantly reduce the imports, and raise the level of food security in the Sultanate which is one of the main goals of the company. The company will also plant 500,000 trees of various varieties over the next ten years, which will have a major role in supporting the Green Economy that is one of the goals of Oman Vision 2040.”
The green scheme will seek to minimise waste by using it for energy and fertiliser with stress on recycling and reusing materials throughout the production chain.

The project aligns with the Sultanate’s 10th five-year plan which aims to increase the contribution of non-oil sectors and activities in the national economy with a focus on agriculture and food processing.

It also accords with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on “Climate Action” and “Life on Earth” and “Partnerships” which call for collaborative action to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, address climate change, combat desertification and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.