Al Jabal Al Akhdar | 06th May 2015: ‘Farming for Hospitality’, a community initiativespearheaded by the Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), was officiallyunveiledyesterdayunder the auspices ofHis Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalifabin Hamad Al Saadi,Governor of Dakhiliyah and attend by officials from Omran and AlilaJabalAkhdar Resort, Government officials and community members. The programme, conceived within the umbrella of Omran’s leading corporate responsibility initiative ‘Intajee’, aims to benefit communities in Jabal Al Akhdar region, and enables farmers to grow fresh produce for the local community and for supply to nearby hotels. ‘Farming for Hospitality’, first launched through a pilot programme in May 2014,equips local farmers with modern greenhouses to grow fresh vegetables, produce that was previously sourced from other regions in Oman or even abroad. The fresh produce, in addition to sustaining the local community, is now also being sold to the nearby AlilaJabalAkhdar Resort. In doing so the project creates a link between small-scale farming enterprises and major hospitality providers.Additionally, ‘Farming for Hospitality’ aims to build on the existing skills of local farmers,transforming the capabilities of traditional farming practices in the region.
On this Occasion, His Excellency Sheikh Dr.Khalifa Al Saadi, the Governor of Dakhiliyahstated, “It is inspiring to witness the corporation between large scale hospitality providers, local communities in the Jabal Al Akhdarregion. It is my sincere hope that ‘Farming for Hospitality’ will serve as an example to motivate further collaboration and synergy both in the region and across the nation.” Commenting on the event, Eng. Wael Al Lawati, Omran GroupCEO noted, “Viable tourism benefits not only the economy, but also the local communities in which it derives its inspiration and resources. In order to sustain proper tourism development the benefits of the sector must be felt at all levels of society, most importantly at the community level.” “Farming for Hospitalityis a pioneeringproject in Oman and is a key addition to Omran’s growing portfolio of sustainable community initiatives. Through the provision of greenhouses and agricultural skills training, the program creates a sustainable business model for selected farmers and benefits the community as a whole. Initiatives such as this are integral to the Government’s vision for a sustainable future for the citizens and communities of Oman.”
The event witnessed a signing ceremony between Mr. Ahmed Al Shariqi, a representative of thefarmers participating in the project, Omran officials and management from AlilaJabalAkhdar Resort. The formal ‘Farming for Hospitality’ supply agreement seesa portion of the freshproduce grown in the programme purchased on a regular basis by the AlilaJabalAkhdarResort. Julian Ayers, AlilaHotels and Resorts Regional Vice President India & Middle East said, “We are delightedto be involved in the ground-breaking‘Farming for Hospitality’ project. Through this project, AlilaJabalAkhdaris able to source fantastically fresh organiclocal produce, and in doing so, provide truly local flavours and authentic dishes with produce direct from farm to table” “As the nation’s premier sustainable hotel, it is our duty to provide a destination that not only offers visitors the highest quality of guest experience, but to conduct our business in a way thatbenefits thecommunityin which we operate.Initiatives such as this ensure that the success of the AlilaJabalAkhdar goes hand in hand with the long term sustainability of the communities ofJabal Al Akhdar.” During a tour of the greenhouses, local Farmer Mr. Ahmed Al Shariqisaid, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in ‘Farming for Hospitality’. Before starting this programme, I grew only pomegranates in the small garden of my house, but since the start of the project I have been able to grow a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers through the greenhouse provided to me by Omran.” “We recently experienced our first yield of vegetables, a portion of which was sold to AlilaJabalAkhdar Resort. Since my first sale the resort has been in continual communication with me to inquire about future harvests and sales. This has given me great confidence as I know there is a constant market for my fresh produce.”
He added, ‘‘Farming for Hospitality means a lot to me and my family. It is my ambition to help the project grow further by increasing the volume and variety of produce in the future and become a successful business owner. The earth houses much goodness and it is our job to harness this goodness for the betterment of our community.”