Muscat: A group of students and alumni from Middle East College in Oman have developed a spray from palm pollen that helps protect trees and plants from pests, enabling them to thrive for longer.
The team, consisting of MEC graduates Mouath Al Shuaili, as well as students Nasra Al Sawafi, Athari Al Hassani, Maysa Al Balushi, and Fatma Ali Rahbi, came up with the product to help Oman’s agricultural sector.
Agriculture is among the sectors being looked at for economic development and expansion, so that the country can reduce its dependence on imports and work towards self-sufficiency. Their product, named Laqah, (the Arabic word for ‘pollen’) recently won the Best Sustainable Prize at a competition organised by Injaz Oman, a company that provides training and resources to youths and encourages them to become entrepreneurs.
“This has helped us market our products and increase our customers’ confidence in us,” said Mouath Al Shuaili, who serves as the CEO of the company, which is also named Laqah. “We are now discussing collaboration opportunities with companies in Oman. “Our main idea was to set up a company specialising in agricultural research and solutions.
“We chose the name Laqah because on any farm, every plant growing there starts out as a grain of pollen,” he added. “This pollen spray is our first product. We have finished our prototype, based on our lab results, and are now waiting to conduct field tests.”
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources has extended support to Laqah’s seven-member team, by offering them the use of their laboratories and specialists to help them make their product better.
“A big part of Oman’s future is focused on agriculture,” said Al Shuaili. “Most agricultural activities centre on the palm tree, because it is so important to the country. We intend to work side by side with Oman’s Million Date Palm Project, as we believe we can help save the time and money of those involved in this initiative.”
The spray is expected to be available in the market by the next academic semester, and Mouath plans to create more products to help the country’s agriculture sector in future.
“We are now registered as an SME, and would like to evolve this into a full-fledged business in future,” he said. “The main ingredient of our spray is powdered palm pollen, which is extracted from the tree’s male flowers. We mix this with a patented solution that helps extend its shelf-life and vitality.
“We have prepared our final solution, and are now looking to find an investor to help us start production,” added Al Shuaili. “The financial requirements for us to move forward with this are the most important challenge we face right now. However, we are confident we will succeed. To everyone else who has plans like this, I say, just do it.
“Don’t think about the bad times you have faced or could in future, but concentrate on succeeding and picture how your life will turn out, if you succeed,” he said. “A simple idea can change your life in a short period of time.”
Middle East College’s entry through Laqah was the first time the institution had taken part in the Injaz competition.“It is developed in line with technological and modern trends to make the production process easier, and reduce labour costs and time,” said a statement from MEC. “Our achievement was sensed by every one in the team, and has made everyone at the college proud, from the Dean to the students.”