A company set up by Sultan Qaboos University students is developing a probiotic for animals which will contribute to the health of livestock by improving immunity and growth.
The brainchild of Ahmed al Tamimi, Mariam al Riyami, Abdul Aziz al Riyami, Ghadeer al Amri, Sulaiman al Ghashri and others, Rataq Company was awarded by The Research Council (TRC) under its Manafa’a programme in September 2020.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Mariam, co-founder of Rataq Company, said, “The idea emerged after painstaking research on the relation between human and animal health. The probiotic – Najeea – is in development stage. We are studying the quality and efficacy of this product and trying it on animals. The objective is to develop a live microbial feed supplement to restore gut flora.”
Probiotics are considered growth and health stimulators used extensively in animal feed around the word. The significant positive effects of probiotics on digestion, vitality, gut ecology and overall animal health have been noted in many studies.
The Manafa’a Ideathon 2020 aimed to encourage responsible use of Oman’s genetic resources – plants, animals, marine life and microbes – to create value for society and to contribute to the diversification of the economy.
When the Manafa’a Ideathon 2020, organised by the Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Centre (OAPGRC) under TRC, was announced, Mariam and her team registered for the competition.
“Conceptualising our idea into a business proposition was a good experience. It was full of challenges and a race against time,” Mariam said. “TRC awar-ded us RO2,500. The council incubated our project for six months helping us work on the product.”
Among the team’s main challenges in developing Najeea was the lack of awareness on the benefits of probiotics. “There is a huge daily use of probiotics in the local market, all of which is imported,” Mariam explained, add-ing that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will impact global food security directly and indirectly.
“As the Committee on World Food Security explained recently, the crisis is already affecting food systems directly through impacts on food supply and demand, and indirectly – but just as importantly – through reduction in purchasing power, the capacity to produce and distribute food, and the intensification of care tasks. Our product contributes to supporting the health of livestock, increasing their growth and immunity, which will have a positive impact in supporting the livestock sector and achieving food security and self-sufficiency in the sultanate,” Mariam said.
Rataq Company’s future plans include setting up probiotic production facilities in the sultanate to meet not just the local demand for these products but also export. “For this, we need technical support from the Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Centre and the cooperation of the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre,” Mariam said.
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