Building on the Kingdom’s intrinsic strengths, Vision 2030’s ‘ambitious nation’ theme seeks to increase efficiency and sustainable practice across the Saudi agriculture sector. Focusing on food security and overall sector development, the Ministry of Agriculture and MEWA (KSA Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture) has launched a series of programs and investment phases.
This new round of funding follows on the heels of the Food Security Strategy, launched in June 2020 by the Saudi Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), which saw USD $500 million dedicated to importing specific food staples to boost the country’s reserves. Contracts worth over USD $90 million alone were created for the import of rice, corn, and soybeans.
At a time when many countries are experiencing significant supply chain disruption, the Food Security Strategy has increased the reserves of key staple food-stuffs, such as wheat and flour, to record levels.
Spring 2021 has seen the Saudi ADF push ahead with a new initiative to boost the agricultural sector by lending support to local farmers. The fund has opened a “Contract Farming Finance” scheme for farms to gain access to enhanced marketing of produce to end-users through distributors, mediators, retailers, or other farms.
Under an agreement between buyers and farmers, the fund intends to support local agricultural production and encourage increased coordination amongst all concerning parties.
Speaking in Riyadh, Bader bin Sulaiman Al-Malek, ADF Deputy Director for the Credit Sector, made clear the intention of the initiative, stressing the need for sector development and domestic production. Secure supplies of agricultural produce alongside access to favorable markets would contribute towards food security and boost strategic food reserves.
Increasing capacity for export by boosting home cultivation, with a 50% target increase in tomato and cucumber yields would ultimately prove to be beneficial to the national economy.
Al-Malek noted that support during the phase of investment will target fruits and vegetables, rain-fed crops, coffee, and wheat.
Early efforts by the Kingdom to increase self-sufficiency have allowed key sectors including poultry, dairy, and date farming to achieve relative security. The past three decades has seen the ADF attract over USD $53 billion worth of investment in the Saudi Arabian agricultural sector
With much of the kingdoms terrain made up of desert, the development fund is encouraging farmers to uptake the use of hydroponics, a technology that uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods. To achieve that, the fund is offering favorable loans that cover a larger share of capital investments.
By encouraging sector development and diversifying production from one region to another, the Ministry of Agriculture and MEWA seeks to build upon the competitive advantages of the nation’s varied regional ecosystems and environments.
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