Muscat: In Oman, the new normal at many homes today in refilling kitchen provision requirement seems to be online shopping. Most of our respondents professed their keenness to shop online or through apps, for their replenishment of vegetables and groceries.
The ease of selection, less human contact, lesser time consumption and freedom from the stress of driving and waiting at counters, were the main factors attributed for this shift in preference.
Acting on the market sentiments and the need of the moment, new and established players quickly made provisions to cater to this demand. It is not uncommon these days to see the delivery agents of various companies unloading cartons of vegetables and fruits from their delivery trucks.
Jahfar Jabbar, Executive Director at Almazra, says, “We started this service in mid-April this year, and have around 4,000 users registered with our system. On a daily basis we deliver to about 200+ homes. Though there was a slight fluctuation in this number, it has stabilised now, as more and more people have realised how hassle-free and stress-free the online shopping is. We sell farm fresh products, straight from our farm which is located in Barka. We start the packing overnight and start delivery from 7am onwards.”
Apart from vegetables, and fruits, Almazra, which is a unit of Suhol Al Fayha Trading LLC, also has in its range of offer, poultry products, meat and grocery items. Almazra’s online system will soon be migrated into an app, Jahfar informs.
“Having our own farm and importing systems are key factors of our successful operation. While vegetables are farmed in our farms, we get fruits from various countries.” Jaffer says.
Another name in this regard, Al Arafan delivers organic vegetables farmed through aquaponics system, perhaps the only one of its kind in Oman. James Paul, Chief Executive Officer and Partner of Muscat Horizons International LLC of which Al Arafan Farms is a part, says his farms is the second biggest aquaponics farm in the region. “We have been in this business since 2016 and we deliver exotic variety of fruits like bok choy, Italian basil, and different varieties of lettuce and tomatoes, which are harvested very early in the morning and sent to supermarkets and other individual customers before 7 am. With the summer season on, our produce is limited to melons, okra, spinach and Italian basil,” says Paul. Aquaponics system is fast coming up as the most preferred organic farming system.
Pradeep Gusain of Nehad Agronomy Services is another well-known name in vegetable, fruits and flower delivery. “Summer time is recoup time for our farms, to get ready for the winter market,” Pradeep says, noting that his products and services will be up and running in a few months’ time, when the farms come alive with produce.