Saudi Arabia Redefines Self-Sufficiency, Food Security With Technology
Land in the Middle East is largely desertic but Saudi Arabia has defied all odds and evolved with technology, boosting domestic crop production and reducing dependence on imported food. Saudi Arabia is witnessing a new agricultural boom.
The kingdom has embarked on food security with investments and technological innovations. It has redefined what it means to achieve self-sufficiency in many food items and has emerged as a great example for the world. Saudi Arabia has managed to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of dates, fresh dairy products, and table eggs.
According to the General Authority for Statistics’ Agricultural Statistics Publication, Saudi Arabia produces more than enough days, fresh dairy products, and table eggs to meet local demand – it has achieved excess capacity for export. The kingdom is also growing potatoes, which now meets 80 percent of local demand. Domestic poultry comprises 68 percent, tomatoes 67 percent, red meat 60 percent, carrots 50 percent, fish 48 percent, and onions 44 percent.
To achieve this milestone, Saudi Arabia navigated challenges posed by climate change, water scarcity and limited freshwater reserves. Jamal Al-Saadoun, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Red Sea Farms Cooperative, told Arab News that the country achieved self-sufficiency through planning over a long period. He said it started in the 1980s – Riyadh developed agricultural plans and prioritized important sectors and products such as dairy, dates, poultry and eggs.
Al Saadoun said this was supported by investors, consultations and boosted by a good domestic market for homegrown products. “Some of these goods were even exported to the Kingdom’s neighbors, demonstrating the oil-rich country’s potential to become an exporter of foodstuffs rather than a mere importer and consumer.”
Agri-businesses and investors in Saudi Arabia have adopted modern technologies to improve quality and yields, learning and exchanging best practices with counterparts in the industry around the world. Al Saadoun said the presence of many technical companies inside the kingdom and regular participation in international exhibitions by the Ministry of Agriculture are giving Saudis in the agricultural sector opportunities to meet specialists and learn about the latest technologies in their field.
Mansour Al Mushaiti, Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said Saudi Arabia has achieved high levels of self-sufficiency in various crops thanks to integrated water management and modern technologies. He highlighted that water consumption in agriculture has decreased from 86 percent to 70 percent. The minister added that significant developments and investments made in the agricultural sector have had a positive impact on the country’s GDP.