Saudi-based NPC to invest US$300 million in fish farming
Saudi-based National Prawn Company (NPC) is planning to invest US$300 million to start a large-scale fish production in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
The aim is to farm king fish, cobia, barramundi, mahi and milk fish using aquaculture installations on waste coastal desert land.
NPC General Manager Peter Fraser said that the company is looking at fish farming in various GCC countries and there are many opportunities to develop waste desert land in coastal areas in the region. They are also looking at viable projects in African countries which have deserts adjoining coastal regions.
NPC has already identified suitable coastal land and development will begin once issues regarding land ownership are resolved. The company produces 15,000 tonnes of shrimp per year at a facility developed on 50 square kilometres of coastal waste land 200 kilometres south of Riyadh. The second phase of the project, which will bring the cost up to US$1 billion, will cover a further 50 sq kilometres.
Fraser said this is a unique project utilising waste land. About 3,000 employees work at the desert shrimp farm and within the next 2 years 5,000 people will be working in the expanded project. By 2011, the company's production capacity will go up to 50,000 tonnes of shrimps per year.
Saudi Arabia is known as an oil exporting country but shrimp is the second-largest Saudi export to Japan after oil. The company currently export to 30 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Fraser added
NPC is owned jointly by the Saudi business groups Al Rahji, Al Balla and Al Subaiei. They also own Al Watania, the Middle East's largest poultry producer, which supplies a million eggs and 500,000 chickens per day.