Highlighting the growing emphasis on national food security, SOHAR Port and Freezone have signed an agreement with Sohar Flour Mills (SFM) for the lease of a 10-hectare plot within the Port area for the construction and management of 12 grain storage silos, each boasting a storage capacity of 13,000 tonnes. Under the terms of the agreement, Sohar Flour Mill will also oversee the construction and development of a new agro bulk terminal and deep water berth which will be dedicated to handling the rapidly growing volumes of agro commodities moving through SOHAR Port.
The Sub-usufruct Agreement (SUA) was signed on 11 April at a ceremony held at SOHAR Port and Freezone offices. Signing the agreement on behalf of SOHAR was the CEO, Mark Geilenkirchen & DCEO, Jamal Aziz; while Sohar Flour Mills were represented by Khamis Abdullah Al Farsi, the Chairman of the Board, and Director, Ali Habaj.
Highlighting the growing role played by the food sector at SOHAR Port and Freezone, Mark Geilenkirchen noted, “Enhancing the nation’s food security has been a matter of great focus for the government in recent years. Aligning with Oman’s National Food Security Strategy, we moved to set up a dedicated ‘Food Cluster’ within SOHAR, which essentially forms the basis for an entire up-stream and down-stream food production, packaging and distribution eco-system. The construction of these large capacity Grain Silos certainly highlights the rapid growth and development of the food and agriculture sector in Sohar, and aligns with the country’s continued economic diversification efforts.”
Established in 1977, Sohar Flour Mills is a partnership between Atyab Investments, wholly-owned by Oman Flour Mills (OFM), and Essa Al Ghurair Investments based in UAE. The company has already invested in a state-of-the-art OMR 15 million flour mill located at the port, which is expected to become operational by Q3 2018. In its first phase, the facility will have a wheat milling capacity of 550 metric tonnes per day with a potential to expand to 2000 metric tonnes per day in later phases. The mill will also be capable of producing all types of specialty flours to cater to the different regions of Oman as well as developing exports to the GCC and other international markets.
“In order to support our operations as well as those of the SOHAR food cluster as a whole, we will soon be constructing Oman’s first Agro bulk terminal at the port, which will be complemented by the new Grain Silo complex. The terminal will be dedicated to the import and export of agricultural bulk – wheat, rice, barley, and other grains, and will be able to load and unload grain at a rate of 600 tonnes an hour. Regulated by the Public Authority for Stores and Food Reserve, the new Grain Silo Complex will be located next to the flour mill and will include 12 silos, each with a capacity of 13,000 tonnes,” said Khamis Abdullah Al Farsi.
With a dedicated agro bulk terminal and the adjoining agro cluster, the SOHAR Port food cluster is a first-of-its-kind cluster dedicated to the food and agro sector in the region. The aim of the cluster is to promote the entire value chain of food processing and logistics support within the expanding multibillion-dollar regional food industry. In addition to the new flour mill and grain silo complex, the SOHAR food cluster will also house of a sugar refinery; with added-value food production, packaging and distribution facilities planned to follow.
“Keeping in line with the SOHAR motto ‘It all starts here’, we are charting our own course to develop and grow SOHAR. Our continued growth within the food and agro sector underlines the fact that SOHAR is emerging as one of the central hubs in the region for industry and logistics.” Mark Geilenkirchen concluded.