How Saudi Arabia is boosting foods safety by pursuing agricultural self-sufficiency

JEDDAH: Thinking about some 90 % of Saudi Arabia’s territory is largely desert and sick-suited for farming, number of might anticipate the Kingdom to be the site of a new agricultural growth made to boost domestic crop creation and lessen dependence on imported foodstuffs.

As substantial swathes of the Arab entire world wrestle with meals insecurity and source-chain disruptions, the Kingdom’s initiatives, investments and technological innovations are redefining what it indicates to attain self-sufficiency in many foods things throughout a single of the world’s most arid areas.

Now, Saudi Arabia has reached entire self-sufficiency in the generation of dates, new dairy products and desk eggs, according to figures from the Standard Authority for Statistics’ Agricultural Stats Publication.

These figures also demonstrate that Saudi Arabia creates far more than ample of these a few meals things to fulfill community demand from customers — 124, 118, and 117 per cent, respectively — that means it has excess capability for export.

The Kingdom has also produced development in increasing potatoes, meeting 80 per cent of nearby need. Domestic poultry includes 68 percent, tomatoes 67 per cent, pink meat 60 percent, carrots 50 %, fish 48 p.c and onions 44 per cent.

Bettering foods self-sufficiency has necessary the Kingdom to navigate the twin hurdles posed by weather improve, bringing with it new record temperatures and soil degradation, and water shortage, amid depleted rainfall and confined natural freshwater reserves.

Jamal Al-Saadoun, CEO and vice chairman of the Crimson Sea Farms Cooperative, or Tamala, an initiative aimed at acquiring agriculture in the Crimson Sea location, informed Arab News the Kingdom attained its stage of food stuff self-sufficiency “through scheduling and more than a prolonged period of time.”

Saudi Arabia’s journey to food stuff self-sufficiency started off in the 1980s. During that decade, Riyadh “began developing agricultural options and focusing on critical sectors and solutions this sort of as dairy, dates, poultry and table eggs,” said Al-Saadoun.

It was supported by traders, assisted by consultations and boosted by a fantastic domestic sector for homegrown merchandise. Some of these items were being even exported to the Kingdom’s neighbors, demonstrating the oil-prosperous country’s possible to become an exporter of foodstuffs rather than a mere importer and purchaser.

A photograph taken on March 31, 2018 reveals a date farm amidst sandstones in the Khuraiba archaeological website around Saudi Arabia’s northwestern town of AlUla. (AFP)

Now Saudi agri-corporations and buyers have adopted modern systems to improve high-quality and yields, learning and exchanging very best procedures with counterparts in the business all-around the entire world.

“The presence of a lot of technical firms inside the Kingdom and normal participation in international exhibitions by the Ministry of Agriculture” are providing  Saudis in the agricultural sector possibilities to meet up with experts and learn about the most up-to-date systems in their discipline, explained Al-Saadoun.

Many economists have sought to emphasize the great importance of food stuff self-sufficiency in the experience of serious foods insecurity, primarily in nations that depend greatly on imports for domestic intake.

As the world-wide food items procedure gets extra interconnected, the danger of meals insecurity is on the rise. In this century alone, the significance of meals self-sufficiency became apparent through the 2007-08 entire world foodstuff selling price disaster.

Extra a short while ago, destabilizing events these kinds of as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have yet again underlined the worth of food security and the want for a lot of countries to pursue self-sufficiency to keep away from price inflation and shortages.


  • Saudi Arabia has applied numerous ground breaking methods to extend and increase its agricultural sector.
  • Riyadh has invested in desalination systems to steer clear of depleting its freshwater reserves essential for developing crops.

Driven by the need to obtain self-sufficiency in keeping with its foodstuff-protection method, the Saudi govt has invested in contemporary desalination technologies and advanced irrigation approaches.

These types of investments allow it to make use of its h2o reserves more efficiently and stay clear of unnecessary wastage, particularly given its constrained natural freshwater resources, especially groundwater.

Throughout most of the Arabian Peninsula, there is treasured little rainfall and significantly of what there is runs off into desert sand or swiftly evaporates.

An area masking extra than 1,000,000 sq. miles contains practically no perennial rivers or streams, and the Kingdom’s southern part is coated by a single of the largest deserts in the entire world.

Saudi Arabia occupies about 80 percent of the Arabian Peninsula and is one particular of its driest nations. Water means are scarce and climate disorders critical. The ailments induce groundwater salinization, which is a popular problem affecting the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

As part of its financial commitment in desalination technologies, Saudi Arabia has crafted vegetation together its coastlines that transform sea h2o into freshwater, which is then applied for irrigation and other agricultural requirements.

The Saudi federal government has invested in contemporary desalination systems and highly developed irrigation tactics. (Shutterstock)

In addition to lowering the use of its freshwater reserves, this procedure has produced it achievable to cultivate crops in drier, drinking water-scarce locations, probably giving the Kingdom extra arable land for agriculture.

To prevent the exploitation of aquifers, Riyadh has also imposed stringent laws versus groundwater extraction. By having these proactive steps, Saudi Arabia is functioning to sustain and preserve this critical source.

The Kingdom has obtained notable self-sufficiency in numerous crops, specifically people necessitating modern technologies, largely many thanks to its built-in water management system. This method has noticeably minimized the water use desired for agriculture from 86 % to 70 per cent.

Saudi authorities are also discovering the possibility of localized vertical-farming systems and hydroponics — the science of escalating crops with out soil and with minimal amounts of water.

Saudi Arabia has constructed crops along its coastlines that change sea h2o into freshwater, which is then utilised for irrigation and other agricultural requirements. (Saudi H2o Conversion Company)

These improvements improve the domestic cultivation of crucial crops, these types of as wheat, barley and dates, and simultaneously lessen reliance on overseas resources for these staples.

In spite of these successes, the Kingdom nonetheless relies greatly on imports for significantly of the food items eaten by the Saudi general public. Nonetheless, authorities acknowledge that the Kingdom cannot realize comprehensive food items self-sufficiency by remaining dependent on the intercontinental current market.

As a result, more than the summer months, the Kingdom’s Agricultural Enhancement Fund accepted funding for tiny farmers in greenhouse vegetable manufacturing, fish and shrimp farming, and poultry breeding. Below this scheme, farmers were loaned $400 million in funding to assist what many simply call “local-for-local” goods.

Al-Saadoun of Tamala highlighted the government’s help for agricultural cooperatives and initiatives to build agriculture and livestock farming with a watch to make use of contemporary technologies, sustainable irrigation systems and natural and organic farming practices.

This kind of initiatives include developing agricultural and livestock farming in the Red Sea area. In recent decades, multiple centers for agricultural growth have emerged throughout the coastal place, with small nearby farms adopting much more advanced practices to strengthen yields.

Saudi organizations and associations are aiding farmers to changeover to modern day and sustainable farming solutions. (Shutterstock)

Firms and associations like Tamala are taking part in a critical position in helping this sort of farmers transition to present day and sustainable farming techniques. They goal to aid the progress of significant-quality produce even though conserving critical assets.

Whilst Saudi Arabia is boosting regional output, this does not mean it is turning its again on international imports. Instead, the Kingdom is diversifying its sources of meals to guard versus long run systemic shocks.

Indeed, in a 2017 paper, “Food self-sufficiency: Building feeling of it, and when it tends to make perception,” published by the journal Foodstuff Coverage, the author argues that “policy selection on this challenge is considerably from a easy binary choice concerning the extremes of relying entirely on homegrown foods and a totally open trade coverage for foodstuffs.”

Saudi Arabia’s working experience is a striking illustration of a region vigorously pursuing its purpose of accomplishing food items self-sufficiency and tackling food insecurity in an unpredictable and unsure world.


By Indana