What was the driver behind your dairy project?
ARJUN SUBRAMANIAN As a local brand, Mazoon Dairy's core market strategy has always been to build brand loyalty among local consumers. In line with this strategy, we launched our products in October 2019, expanding from Muscat to northern and southern Oman, reaching Salalah within the first 100 days. Despite carrying out in-depth studies about demand and production, we kept falling short on supply every time. We plan to use our extra capacity because we need to double our production over the next six to eight months. Our distribution strategy has been to cover all the major retail outlets where footfall is high. Going forward, we are looking more into covering hotel and catering (HoReCa) as the tourism sector is expected to grow. By doing so, we will gain valuable experience that we use in international markets. We are looking at exporting to nearby countries. Our goal is to enter both retail and HoReCa segments at the same time.
NASSER ALI BAIT SAID The idea of collecting milk from rural people and farmers was launched in the 1980s, but it was only recently formed and executed. In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, and OFIC sat down to develop a business plan for dairy farming in the southern part of Oman, Dhofar, which has more than 50% of the total animals in Oman. The founder committee developed a partnership with an Omani counterpart, forming Al Morooj. Our vision is to adopt modern technologies and practices in the dairy field and convert traditional practices to up-to-date ones. This will result in providing a commercial outlook to the business, which has been supported by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and also the Dhofar Governor to support the land for the centers near to the farmers. Dhofar Wilayat supports the herders for this project in terms of increasing farmers' sustainability and improving their lives. It has provided us with all the necessary tools to increase productivity and cut costs in all areas of the process.
Where does technology make the greatest impact on your supply chain?
AS Technology has a huge impact on the inbound and outbound supply chain. Mazoon's production has basically increased from zero to 200,000 liters per day in no time, which equals a lot of pressure to the supply chain. We designed IT systems and integrated handheld terminals, sales management systems, and automation. The entire decision-making process is automated and delegated. We are also one of the few companies in Oman with an automated forecasting system, which uses AI. Since we are in the fresh food business, we need to know how much to supply every day. It reduces human error, helps us monitor and review, and gives weather warnings. We also have a root process system. Being a new company, we depend a lot on our sales team on the ground. People on the ground can only cover so many outlets in a day, but our root process system allows them to plan efficiently.
What is the key to integrate small farmers' activities into the mainstream production processes of the national economy?
NABS The main challenge lies in changing the traditional practice of farmers, as they have inherited practices set in centuries. Raising animals, milking them, and managing the milk have all been dramatically revolutionized by the advent of technology. The key is making farmers understand that adopting these practices will lead to higher income and also improving the standard of life, which will result in the contribution of Omani national food security. Another major challenge is controlling the quality of milk. The old model relied on collection points in every community in rural areas, without looking at the time employed to bring the milk to the central processing factory. This implied not only a lack of efficiency, but also a high volume of milk becoming sour before it could be treated. As such, we adopted a chiller center to maintain the milk at lower temperatures for longer times. We are also adopting intensive testing tools in our microbiological labs to prevent diseases from being spread through milk.