Sohar Port and Freezone has entered into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Sohar University, to organise an inter-university competition entitled the ‘Strawberry Challenge’, which is aimed at promoting the implementation of high-tech farming solutions. This agreement will reinforce the efforts of Sohar in being at the forefront of Oman’s sustainability and innovation objectives. The agreement was signed at the Sohar University, between Omar Mahmood al Mahrizi, CEO of Sohar Freezone — DCEO Sohar Port and Professor Barry Winn, ViceChancellor of Sohar University. Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO of Sohar Port said, “At Sohar, encouraging initiatives based on innovation and sustainability is an important part of our overall strategy. We are extremely glad to be partnering with Sohar University to organise this project, which seeks to implement innovative agricultural solutions based on modern and advanced technologies, while simultaneously inspire self-innovation from participating students’’. The objective of the ‘Strawberry Challenge’ is to grow the largest, tastiest and the maximum number of strawberries in a 40-foot shipping container over a period of four months. The participating teams from local and international universities, will each be provided with the necessary amenities including young strawberry plants, solar energy resource, LED lighting, CO2, and monetary funding. Prizes will be awarded to teams that achieve the most productivity and utilise the least resources’’. Commenting on their participation in the project, Professor Barry Winn said, “Sohar University’s main principles revolve on the focus of fostering educational development, while simultaneously promoting hightech solutions that reduce the country’s dependence on the import of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables. Our ‘Grow Dome’ project, which is a comprehensive self-sufficient greenhouse facility housed within our premises, stands as a testament to our efforts. We are extremely proud to be working alongside Sohar Port and Freezone and share in their ambitions for a better, brighter future for the Sultanate’’. The entire project will take place over the course of a year and will see the support of notable strategic partners such as the Dutch Embassy, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Shell Development Oman, Philips Lighting Oman, C Steinweg Oman and Certhon. “Apart from enhancing the learning experience of student by encouraging local participation, and the long-term objective of creating a net-exporting food industry in Oman, the challenge will pave a way to promote Dutch expertise and knowledge into the region and strengthen ties between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Sultanate of Oman,” Geilenkirchen added.