Hassad Food, Qatar’s premier investor in the Food & agriculture sectors has acquired a significant minority equity interest in A’Saffa. The transaction which was announced today in Muscat was concluded and signed by the Chairman of Hassad Food, His Excellency, Mr. Nasser Al Hajri, and His Excellency, Mr.Mohamed bin Obaid Al Mazrouei, Chairman, Arab Authority For Agricultural Investment & Development. A’Saffa Foods S.A.O.G (formerly A’Saffa Poultry Farms, S.A.O.G) was established in 2001 and is the largest integrated poultry project in the Sultanate of Oman over a 40 square kilometer farm area is situated in Thumrit, Southern Oman. The state-of-the-art project facilities produces high quality fresh and frozen poultry meat products and its 100% owned subsidiary produces value added processed meat products.
Qatar takes initiatives to expand business initiative in food and agriculture industry, mainly focused on the acquisition and development of existing agribusiness companies rather than involving the lease of large tracts of farmland. These large-scale land-lease deals have attracted criticism on the grounds that they could impair the rights of existing smallholders and damage the host country’s own food security. The state agriculture company has recently announced plans to invest US$3.3 billion in buying stakes in agricultural companies around the world as part of the government’s strategy to secure adequate supply of food at reasonable prices. Qatar has recently invested in Australia, India and Sudan. Additional, investments are on process in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
The surge in world food prices and the introduction of export restrictions by some countries on certain commodities impelled Gulf countries to develop new strategies for ensuring food security. Companies from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example, have leased farmland in Sudan and Pakistan, among other countries, to produce food. Qatar today, imports food and agriculture products mainly from US, Europe and Mediterranean countries.
The Company focus is instead on investing in existing agricultural businesses and exporting the produce to Qatar where needed. In the process, the company aims to create an additional source of profit, besides ensuring food security for the Qatari population. Initially it is focusing on companies that produce basic food items, like poultry/chickens, meat, wheat, rice, sugar, soya and animal feeds. In the second stage, it will extend its operations to fruits and vegetable farming, and in the third, it will start marketing and packaging produce under its own brand.