19 March 2016
Muscat - An estimated 160,000 milking camels that form part of Dhofar Governorate's sizable camel population will be covered by an ambitious milk collection and processing initiative unveiled recently by the Omani government. The move, according to a key official driving this initiative, is to help potentially thousands of Omani camel owners earn sustainable incomes on their herds. Pursued in parallel with a milk collection and processing programme targeting dairy cows in the governorate, the initiative is set to eventually take on the dimensions of the hugely successful dairy cooperatives of the United States, Europe and Asia.
"The milk collection and processing project due to be launched in the south of Oman will cater to artisan dairy producers, who are primarily small-scale producers," said Saleh M al Shanfari, CEO, Oman Food Investment Holding Co (OFIC), a wholly government own food investment vehicle. "Our goal is to cover around 250,000 head of cattle, as well as 160,000 camels in this initiative," he added in comments to the Observer.
A high-level panel headed by Dr Rashid bin Salim al Masroori, CEO - Public Authority for Stores and Food Reserves (PASFR), is overseeing the implementation of the so-called Milk Collection and Processing Project in Dhofar Governorate.
Also represented on the panel are the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Office of the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC), and Omani National Livestock Development Company.
Al Shanfari said the project will contribute to improved milk quality through the delivery of training programmes aimed at boosting farming standards.
"We are working closely with Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and other stakeholders in developing the capabilities of small producers and farmers. Our objective is to support the development of small and medium enterprises (SME) as well."
Envisaged is a multi-location collection system, as well as investments in a dairy processing plant that will produce a range of dairy products. When fully rolled out, the project is expected to yield around 90,000 litres of milk per day.
The initiative, together with OFIC's flagship Mazoon Dairy project, is expected to transform Oman into a net exporter of milk.
Mazoon Dairy Co SAOC is developing a vertically integrated dairy farm and production facility at Suneinah in Buraimi Governorate with a capital investment of RO 100 million. Annual production is targeted at around 1 billion litres of milk by the year 2040 in line with a goal to reduce the nation's dependency on dairy imports.
© Oman Daily Observer 2016