Local food movement gets a seat at the table
Source: Ithraa , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu December 7, 2017 10:52 am

OMAN. A powerful local food movement is growing; a movement that is connecting Omani consumers with how, where and by whom their food is grown.

It is forging new pathways to help rural families stay on their home farms and attracting new, young producers to farming and food-related businesses. It is also bringing about a new appreciation for rural production and entrepreneurship among Omani chefs, food companies and retailers large and small.

This exciting new local food movement is up for discussion at the next edition of Inside Stories scheduled for 7:00pm, Tuesday 12 December at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation Training Centre in Al Hail North.

“Decision makers around the world are increasingly recognizing the connections between food and agriculture and a set of broader outcomes, such as public health, the environment, civic engagement, economic opportunity. Job creation and increased levels of happiness,” commented Taleb Al Makhmari, Ithraa’s Marketing & Media Director General and organizer of the monthly Inside Stories initiative.

Proudly supported by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation and Al Mouj Muscat, panelists for Tuesday night’s Inside Stories session include: Sheikh Saleh Al Shanfari, CEO, Oman Food Investment Holding Company; Mr. Robert MacLean, Principal, National Hospitality Institute; Mrs. Zainab Jones, micro-agriculturist; and Mr. James Paul, Managing Director, Al Arfan Farms.

Noting the soaring demand for produce and food grown and raised in Oman, Al Makhmari said: “Opportunities abound for small farms and local food entrepreneurs. But competition is fierce and a fantastic product is, sadly, not always enough these days. To harvest the possibilities of the growing interest in Omani produce, and particularly in healthy organic fruit, vegetables, grain and meat, local businesses need to be sure they know how to brand, package and market in ways that appeal to local consumers,” remarked Al Makhmari.

In addition to marketing, packaging, food supply chains and organic produce the 12 December Inside Stories will also explore urban farming.

The UN FAO reports that 800 million people worldwide grow vegetables or fruits or raise animals in cities, producing 15 to 20% of the world’s food and this percentage is expected to double in the next 20 years.

According to research from the US Community Food Security Coalition in a 130-day temperate growing season, a 10’x10’ metre plot can provide most of a 4-person household’s total yearly vegetable needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, B complex and iron. From an economic perspective, approximately every 400 baizas invested in a community garden plot yields RO2.200 worth of vegetables.

“The growth of urban agriculture is reviving and stimulating local economies like never before and it is creating local jobs,” explained Al Makhmari. Ithraa’s Director General added: “More economic transactions occurring within a community means more income and work for local businesses. Indeed, the growing demand for safe, locally grown food is leading to increased opportunity for Omani food start-ups, which is in turn fueling job creation.”

Tuesday evening’s Inside Stories event will also be serving locally grown organic food, supplied by Al Arfan Farms and carefully prepared by catering students from Oman’s Tourism College.

Inside Stories is open to the public and free- of-charge to attend. To register, log on to: events.ithraa.om

Photo Captions:
1. (above)  Taleb Al Makhmari, Ithraa's Marketing & Media Director General and organizer of the monthly Inside Stories initiative
2. (inset)  For illustrative purposes only (File photo)

About Ithraa
Founded in 1996, Ithraa is a government-run, ISO and Investor in People certified inward investment and export promotion agency.

We provide a range of support services and information to help domestic and international investors set up in, and export from, Oman.



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