A significant portion of Oman’s 400,000-tonne annual date yield will soon be used to produce high-quality mushroom-based protein, following a deal struck between the country and alternative protein start-up MycoTechnology.
The Oman Investment Authority (OIA) and the Colorado-based MycoTechnology will collaborate in building a state-of-the-art production facility in the country.
Oman is one of the top 10 producers of dates in the world. However more than half of its annual crop yield goes to waste or animal feed.
In a bid to intercept the wasted dates, MycoTechnology will use the natural sugar present in the fruit as a source of carbon to fuel the production of mushroom-based protein.
MycoTechnology’s proprietary processes involve the fermentation of mycelia – the invisible root system produced by mushrooms. The end product is a plant protein which is “more functional and easier to digest”, according to the company.
Construction of the new facility is due to start in the first half of 2023, on a 10-hectare site.
From there, the two parties hope to begin commercial production by the second quarter of 2025. The aim is to process up to 16,000 tonnes of dates a year.
Alan Hahn, MycoTechnology CEO, said the construction of the facility in Oman would be the equivalent to a “food oasis in the desert”.
“It represents a breakthrough in the quest to bring food security to Oman and the wider region. This initiative will be transformative – and not just for the Middle East,” he said. “We are foraging for the future, unlocking the ancient power of culinary mushrooms to feed the world’s growing population with a solution that’s been beneath our feet all along.”
Utilising Oman’s wasted date crop in a new foodtech facility is in line with Oman Vision 2040 – a plan of action set forth by government to attract modern technologies to the country.
One of the targets for the initiative is to boost food security in Oman. This is a concern across many Middle Eastern countries – because of the geography of the land, it is hard to grow crops and thus many rely on imports from other countries to feed their populations.
There are several technologies that are being harnessed to change this, including that which claims to turn arid desert into fertile land.
Ibrahim Al Eisri, Director of Private Equity at OIA, said: “Our partnership with MycoTechnology will deliver substantial local benefits as we pioneer the proteins of tomorrow.
“It will support our mission to enhance food security, diversify the Omani economy, and create well-paying jobs in an eco-friendly new sector. This joint venture will be the foundation that enables Oman to foster a new generation of talent in the sphere of food technology, here and further afield.”