Ensuring sufficient amount of fish in the Omani market during the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for the sultanate’s fisheries industry. However, the restrictions have been overcome with the coordinated efforts of the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MoAF), the industry players and introduction of digital platforms to help provide fish on the plates of millions as well giving fishermen the option of marketing their products.
The local fishing companies have been on the forefront to provide fisheries products to local markets and consumers. Oman Fisheries Company, the sultanate’s largest company operating in fisheries industry, has played a prominent role in ensuring supply of fish in the markets during the coronavirus pandemic. The Oman Fisheries Company is the largest local company working in the area of fishing, processing and manufacturing of seafood products in the Sultanate of Oman.
Mohammed bin Salem al Amri, managing director, Oman Fisheries Company, said, “Since the beginning of the crisis, the company, in direct coordination with MoAF, used its potential, production capacity and fish stocks to cover the deficit in local markets. By purchasing fish from Omani fishermen, it prevented them from being adversely affected particularly at the time of weak exports. In addition to this, the company has signed several agreements with hypermarkets to daily supply fresh fish which it purchases from Omani fishermen.”
Amri said that the company has multiplied its daily fresh fish supplies manifold in local markets, through its own sales outlets and hypermarkets. It makes its products available in the market at prices affordable for the consumers. The company has also allocated two trucks from its fleet to transport fish which it purchases from fishermen of the Musandam governorate, particularly from its Wilayat Diba, at a price which suites them.
He added that the Oman Development Bank (ODB) has supported the company thoughtout. “Now the bank is supporting the company for its purchase of a fishing fleet. A loan has already been granted by the bank to purchase a ship – Al-Khair 1,” he said.
Talking about the company’s utilisation of modern technologies during the pandemic, Amri said that the company was registered in the electronic platforms – Bahar and Bahar+ – launched by MoAF. “The company has contributed in the establishment of these platforms meant for showcasing its products on a daily basis. The company also took the initiative to set up a marketing platform on WhatsApp for fish grill shops spread across all governorates. On these marketing platforms, fresh, frozen, value added fish are showcased. It is becoming popular as it is readymade, of high-quality and in the reach of all consumers.”
Amri said that during the crisis, the company focused on supplying fresh, frozen and value-added fish products to the local market at reasonable prices and with high competitive quality which is also affordable for the consumers. “This led to an increase in the volume of demand for these products. For example, more than 70 tonnes of fresh fish bought from fishermen in Wilayat Diba was supplied in the market during the holy month of Ramadan.”
On the precautionary steps taken by the company to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, Amri said that the company was committed to health and preventive measures as part of its quality control policy. The company also follows all the decisions and guidelines issued by the Supreme Committee in charge of dealing with the situation arising due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. It ensures social distancing among its workers as the company produces food items. It also takes strict measures to maintain the healthy production environment in the factories of the company, he said.