• May 01, 2016

Specialist training prepares SOHAR for Food Zone activation

• Food inspection training meets exacting international standards
• Specialised health, agricultural and veterinary inspectors attend
• Investments from UAE and India are flowing into SOHAR Food Zone

SOHAR Port and Freezone was preparing itself for further significant growth this week, as the first onsite training course for employees of the Food Inspection Department kicked off.

SOHAR is busy creating the region’s first Food Zone, a dedicated agro terminal at the Port with planned quayside facilities for grain, rice and sugar processing, and ample space for downstream food manufacturing and packaging industries. Thanks to world-class connectivity and abundant supplies of energy and raw materials for packaging, including plastics, aluminium and steel, SOHAR offers the perfect base for food companies wishing to set up new Middle East operations. In large part thanks to Port of Rotterdam’s experience with similar agro-industrial projects in Europe, the new Food Zone was well planned from the outset and has already generated significant interest in the market; investors from the UAE and India have already signed LLA’s to develop their own facilities.

The course looked at the holistic processes involved in Food Safety Management, a comprehensive system of procedures necessary to meet the highest international standards of food inspection and food safety. More than twenty participants, professionals from the health, agricultural and veterinary quarantine departments at the Port, received detailed instruction about the latest principles for checking and inspecting many different foodstuffs.

Expert lecturer Hajar Al Sayed Ibrahim led the weeklong course; he is certified as a trainer by the US-based ServSafeTM organisation, and works closely with the Public Authority for Consumer Protection in Muscat, managing many of their food-safety trainings. The course was authorised by Oman’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and units covered Food Inspectors’ duties, including validating documents and certificates; methods for collecting and preserving samples in the field and how to correlate them against a shipment’s certification; procedures for temporary seizure, destruction or return of substandard food shipments; as well as a full review of the latest Gulf and international best-practice food standards.

Speaking at the edge of a conference on Human Capital at the International Maritime College Oman (IMCO) this week, SOHAR Port CEO Andre Toet said: “All our multi-billion Dollar infrastructure investments in SOHAR Port and Freezone will only ever be as good as the people managing them; this is why we will continue to invest in training the best possible teams at SOHAR to ensure smooth operations at the highest international standards.”