COUNTING CHICKENS

Oman 2018 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eng. Yaqoob Al Ruqaishi, General Manager of A'Namaa Poultry Company, on increasing Oman's domestic poultry production to meet growing demand and reduce dependence on imports.

Eng. Yaqoob Al Ruqaishi
BIOGRAPHY
Prior to becoming General Manager of A’Namaa Poultry Company, Eng. Yaqoob Al Ruqaishi held various high-level positions within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries including Director General of Animal Wealth from 2012-2015. Before this, he was Assistant Director General of Animal Wealth Affairs in Al Dakhelia, Al Batenah, and Dhofar governorates for a total of 10 years. He received his master’s in animal production from the University of Wales (UK) and a bachelor’s in the same field from Sultan Qaboos University.

What is the company's current strategy in terms of food security in Oman?

A'Namaa Poultry Company's main goal is to produce 60,000 tons of poultry and poultry products per annum. Oman currently imports around 75% of the poultry and poultry products needed in the market. We mainly import from Brazil, which supplies around 80%, while the remaining 20% comes from France, Turkey, and Argentina. At times we experience disruptions in this supply chain, and this causes a problem in the market with a shortage of white meat. This is in fact an issue for Oman's national food security. We need to secure the food supply chain for people living here. White meat is the main and cheapest source of animal protein on the market, compared to other sources of animal protein. The government felt we needed to establish a company to take care of all these food projects and thus set up Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC). OFIC's CEO is also the Chairman of A'Namaa Poultry Company. Our goal is to cover at least 50% of the Omani poultry market. Market demand is rapidly increasing in Oman, with an annual growth rate of around 5.4%, with tourism increasing as well by 12% annually. This raises the big question of how we will provide food, including meat, milk, and eggs, for all these people. A'Namaa Poultry Company will also create around 1,500 new job opportunities for nationals and expatriates.

Why does Oman source its poultry from countries such as Brazil, and is this expected to change?

Brazil is number one in the world in chicken production because it has the raw material, the feed, and it has focused on poultry by all means. We do not intend to ask the government to stop importing from Brazil. Oman has an agreement with the WTO, and we respect our agreements with our partners. Our strength will be providing an Omani product to Oman. In addition, all A'Namaa Poultry Company's products will be guaranteed halal; we have made that commitment to our customers. Thirdly, our poultry will be fresh or frozen daily. In Europe, 90% of the poultry is supplied fresh directly to the market. The Omani market needs to be changed as Omanis go for frozen poultry at the moment. However, even our frozen poultry will be fresher compared to the current supply chain from other countries that takes at least a month to arrive in Oman; our local supply time frame is just two days. In the future, we will try to shift the market from frozen to fresh poultry.

How will A'Namaa Poultry Company's operation look in its first phase?

We are applying a satellite concept whereby we have a main services area with the farms around it. We will have a factory to produce the feed with a capacity of 500 tons per day. We will have hatcheries that will produce chicks with a capacity of 70 million eggs per year, and a slaughterhouse and processing plant with a capacity of almost 200,000 birds per day. 75% of the cost of producing a chicken is feed. Brazil has soy bean and corn available locally to use as feed, while we have to import all our feed raw materials, which increases the price for us. The Omani National Livestock Development Company produces animal feed, but only for ruminants—cows, sheep, and goats. The type of feed we require for poultry is completely different. Our operation will also have 240 broiler houses once the project is fully completed that can accommodate around 60 million birds per year. We would like to see 50% of the construction completed by 2018 and then be fully operational and producing by YE2019. We already have the engineering consultants and supply vendors in place, and we have secured financing for the project with OMR50 million coming from the bank.