Muscat: Oman’s long-term plans to achieve food security will take another step forward with the construction of the Mazoon Dairy Farm.
Scheduled to be constructed in Wilayat Sunaynah, which is in the Buraimi Governorate, because it has the right conditions to develop a farm there, the farm’s development will be spearheaded by the Oman Food Investment Company, the Sultanate’s food security investment arm.
“The purpose is to develop a dairy farm that will as part of phase one, have 4,000 milking cows, and then gradually rise to 25,000 cows by 2023,” said Saleh Al Shanfari, CEO for OFIC. “This is to self-sustain the milk and dairy product requirements of people living in this country, whether they are nationals, residents, tourists or other visitors to Oman, with health products that would include various types of dairy products and derivatives, milk, fresh juices and so on.
“The total investment into this project in OMR100 million, with 50 million already being secured as a loan, and other 50 million in the form of investment from various parties, that include Oman Food Investment Company (OFIC), which takes 20% of the stake, with another 80% being distributed among fund and other investment companies,”
“All of these investment are from joint-stock companies, pension funds and limited liability companies.”
The construction of Mazoon Farms is part of Oman’s Tanfeedh plans for economic diversification, which looks to secure a non-oil future for the nation.
“When we reach 25,000 cows, that is when we will be very close to self-sufficiency. The farm will create more than 2,000 jobs, which will be provided to people in the Buraimi Governorate and Sunaynah, and the other areas which are close to the farm,” added Al Shanfari.
“It will be another opportunity for people to find jobs. There will be a lot of training for people in that area so that they are ready for these jobs, so a lot of upskilling will take place.
“There will also be a lot of trickle down effects because of this, because a lot of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs can start services that will be required,” he said. “We will encourage a number of them to start businesses to support the farm.”
With phase one of construction to be completed by the end of 2018, Mazoon Dairy Farm will be home to some of the finest breeds of milk-producing cattle.
“They will be Holstein-Frisian cows, which are well known for having the highest dairy production,” said Al Shanfari.
“We will be selecting the ones that have the best genetic line, so that they have good productivity and no disease. These are genetically selected dairy cows selected from very good lines dedicated to high dairy production. These cows could come from Europe or from North America, or from Australia, so there are many sources.
“The cows we will import will be pregnant when they come here. They’re called heifers, and we will breed the cows and their calves here,” he added. “They also have to come at a very specific time, that is before summer of next year.
“They have to arrive here by airplane, most likely at Sohar Airport, and then they will need to be managed and transported in a very specific manner so that they arrive comfortable and relaxed.
“We would expect phase one of the construction to be finished by the end of 2018, and it is expected to be around 15 square kilometres,” explained Al Shanfari. “Mazoon Dairy is also part of the Tanfeedh plan, and it is one of the plans that is closest to it and seeing steady progress.”