Omani fish processors secure $2.4m in new contracts
The Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED) in partnership with the Directorate General of Fisheries Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Oman Development Bank, participated at the recent European Seafood Exhibition (ESE) held in Brussels, Belgium. Also represented at the show were Oman Fisheries Company SAOG, Al Marsa Fisheries LLC, Al Bahihi Fisheries LLC and Sea Pride LLC. ESE is the world’s largest seafood trade show and allows Omani seafood companies the chance to promote the Sultanate’s fishing industry to global buyers and others in the business. According to Aiman Ambusaidi, PAIPED’s Director of Export Development, “The four Omani companies enjoyed an outstanding response to the produce they were showcasing at the ESE. In particular, visitors to the Sultanate’s pavilion were keen to learn more about Omani tuna, lobster, lobster tail, shrimp, groupers, sea bream and the value added fish products offered by the four Omani companies. In fact, the participating exporters have already booked orders to the tune of $2.4 million for both fresh and frozen fish.” The Omani pavilion attracted over 500 visitors during the three-day event and besides the European market, the four companies are very upbeat about their participation at the exhibition and the global customer contacts they made. Moreover, Oman was the only Arab country exhibiting at the Brussels show. Shaikh Ghazi bin Said al Rawas, the Sultanate’s Ambassador to Belgium as well as senior officials from the embassy visited the Oman pavilion. “ESE is a key date in the seafood industry calendar,” remarked PAIPED’s Ambusaidi, adding, “This is the world’s largest seafood fair with over 1,600 exhibitors, attracting in excess of 24,000 visitors from 140 countries. Indeed, it’s important for Omani companies to have a presence at this leading event. The four participating firms did an outstanding job of promoting the Sultanate’s fishing industry and clearly demonstrated how Oman’s produce stands apart from its competitors. This was the perfect opportunity to showcase our competitiveness to global seafood markets.”
Source: Oman Daily Observer 2011
Abu Dhabi farmers to get grants from Aug 1
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) will start disbursing the governmental grants for farmers in the emirate as part of the restructured agricultural support program from August 1. The new program assumes critical importance as the grants of up to $30,000 per year will be given to the farmers only if they comply with the rules and regulations governing the preservation of water resources and modernization of farming in the emirate. Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA said the stringent conditions tied to the disbursal of government assistance were meant to raise the bar on farming practices in the emirate in terms of profitability, ecological and environmental soundness and best practices. ‘Non-cultivation of animal feeds, especially the water-intensive Rhodes grass is one of the principal conditions for receiving government aid. Animal growers among the farmers are, however, permitted to cultivate feeds in a limited area for feeding their privately owned livestock, subject to ADFCA’s approval,’ he pointed out. ‘Membership in the Farmers’ Services Centre is the second principal condition. The advices and services of the center are crucial to achieving the desired agricultural advancement for the emirate,’ Al Reyaysa noted. According to him, a contract with the center for its services for cultivating date palm is another stipulation. ‘Not renting or exploiting the farms for commercial purposes other than farming and breeding livestock is also built into the new system,’ Al Reyaysa added. Strict adherence to the guidance and instructions from the Farmers’ Services Centre with respect to irrigation methods and farm maintenance is a must for qualifying for the assistance, he stated. ‘No more than one well per one hector of farmland is allowed. All other relevant policies and regulations governing agriculture will have to be demonstrably implemented.’ Al Reyaysa warned that non-compliance with any of the above stipulations will result in entitlement for government assistance being withheld or cancelled. ‘All the farmers are required to sign a contract with ADFCA, agreeing to comply with all the conditions and acknowledging that they will be disqualified in case of non-compliance,’ he said. The new measures being implemented are in the best interests of the farming community. The purpose is to achieve better food security, profitability for the profession of farming and improved ecological and environmental equilibrium for the emirate,’ Al Reyaysa added.
Source: TradeArabia News Service
Iraq in bid to revive ailing date industry
The Iraq Agriculture Ministry has an unveiled an ambitious $80 million plan to rebuild the date palm inventory up to 40 million trees in 10 years and to introduce more marketable varieties. Once, before its 1980s war with Iran, Iraq had 30 million date palms producing 1 million tons of dates annually. But Saddam Hussein’s military campaigns and decades of neglect savaged the industry, cutting the number of trees in half and yearly production to 420,000 tons. Young Iraqis, needed to scale the tall palms to hand-cut and lower bunches of golden fruit to the ground, see no future in it and are leaving the orchards for government jobs with better salaries and fewer hardships. Standing in the middle of what was once a date palm oasis overlooking the Tigris River, Salim Abdulla al-Salim sees little hope in Iraq’s quest to relive its heyday as the world’s leading producer of dates. “The industry is not viable any more. The revenues don’t cover the money spent on preparing the palms for production,” said Salim, a date farmer with 6,000 trees. “In the past, the young generations were adopting their ancestors’ jobs, but now they have shifted to police, army and civil jobs, abandoning the date industry,” said Salim, standing in his dusty palm orchard in Baghdad’s Doura district of Doura. Iraq, which relies on its vast oil and gas fields for most of its economy, now ranks only 7th among world date producers, according to Kamil Mikhlif al-Dulaimi, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s date palm board. But the ministry said it was now working to change the date palm map, and produce the species the world wants. Ninety percent of Iraq’s production is one variety of date, the Zehdi. The ministry is expanding the menu to include the Hillawi, Khadrawi, Sayer, Maktoom, Derrie, Ashrasi and Barhee varieties, said Dulaimi. It is also introducing new types of laboratory-produced trees that will bear fruit in two years instead of the four or five it usually takes. The ministry recently signed a $17 million contract to buy seven crop-spraying helicopters to fight orchard pests. “Having these helicopters means a big step forward for the agriculture sector,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Ghazi al-Abboudi said in an interview. The government’s hope is to double production to more than 800,000 tons annually in two years’ time, Abboudi said. Dulaimi’s goal appears more modest -- to boost the industry to 800,000-1 million tons in ten years. In the 1970s Iraq sent 700,000 tons of dates abroad each year but last year exported only 200,000 tons, according to Mohammad Sulaiman, head of the Iraqi government’s date processing and marketing company. Domestically, Iraq consumes about 100,000 tons yearly, and farmers in a depressed industry grumble about imports of foreign dates. “I wonder why the government allows imported dates in? Don’t we have dates?” asks Salim, the date farmer. His groves are filled with weeds. Many of his trees have brittle brown fronds hanging limply, and clumps of dried fruit that should have been picked months ago. Salim said he didn’t bother because it would not have been financially worthwhile. Iraqi date palms produced 150-200 kg per tree in the 1990s, when water quality, fertilizers, pollination and pest control were better. Output is now down to just 50 kg, according to Salim. The government is trying to help farmers boost production via subsidies for fertilizers and crop-dusting helicopters, agriculture officials say, and offers soft loans for processing and storage facilities. “We started to give loans to investors to build warehouses, and they are increasing. We have now around 80 warehouses in Iraq,” Abboudi said. The ministry also buys dates at $385 a ton and sells to exporters at half that price to shore up the industry, he said -- effectively subsidizing farmers to keep them cultivating dates. But farmers like Salim say they would rather sell to a private middle man at $300 a ton than face the Iraqi government’s tangled bureaucracy for the extra $85. Feroun Ahmed Hussein, the owner of 4,000 palms in Baghdad’s Doura district, said many farmers are selling off their land for housing projects despite farm-protection laws enacted before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that are still on the books. “Some people figured that the government is not in a strong position and started to sell these agricultural lands to turn them into residential,” Hussein said. Agriculture contributes about 10.2 percent to gross domestic product, according to government statistics, a relatively small slice of an emerging economy dominated by oil. Iraq has signed deals with oil companies that it hopes will vault it into the top rank of world producers in six years. But Dulaimi said Iraq should not rely only on oil. “We are an agricultural country it is not in our policy to keep depending on oil,” he said. “Oil will run out one day.”