In a concerted effort to diversify domestic agricultural production and ensure food security for the future, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) has seen loans to farms increase by 300% in the past five years, with an estimated total of over SAR3.7 billion riyals (USD1 billion) to date.
Under Vision 2030’s goals of achieving self-sufficiency and significantly reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on imports, a number of initiatives geared towards agricultural self-sufficiency are well underway. Crucial to this drive is the country’s Agricultural Development Fund which plays the pivotal role of overseeing and supporting the Kingdom’s agriculture sector.
At a time when many countries worldwide are experiencing significant supply chain disruption, Saudi’s ‘Food Security Strategy’ has increased the reserves of key staple foodstuffs, such as wheat and flour, to record levels.
The ADF has supported a number of domestic and international projects in the form of medium-and long-term soft loans, as well as technical, administrative, financial, and marketing advice to boost the country’s agricultural performance.
Speaking in Riyadh in March, 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.
Al-Malek noted that support during the phases of investment will target fruits and vegetables, in particular tomato and cucumber cultivation as well as coffee and wheat.
With the intention of complementing the efforts made at home by the Agricultural Development Fund, like-minded investments have also been made into strategic partnerships outside of the Kingdom.
Through close cooperation with producers across Europe and Africa, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sought to minimize the pandemics’ detrimental effect to the access and steady supply of key crops whilst shoring up contingency plans for the future.
Strategic partnerships over the past two years with farms in the Ukraine has seen the approval of loans worth over SAR 644 million riyals help diversify and secure the Kingdom’s access to barley, wheat, corn, and soybeans.
Similarly, Spring 2021 saw an agreement of enhanced cooperation between the Kingdom and Uzbekistan in the development and funding of agri-tech in the Central Asian Republic.
Negotiations with the KSA Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) saw parties discuss the possibility of establishing an agricultural forum and autumn exhibition of Uzbek agri-products and horticulture in the Kingdom. Additional agreements saw Saudi investment in livestock rearing and the processing of grain and cotton.
The diversification of investments both at home and abroad via the ADF, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the National Development Fund has ensured the stability of food security within the Kingdom during a time of unprecedented difficulties.
As precedent-breaking steps continue, the Kingdom’s food strategy continues to bear fruit and provide opportunities and security for citizens and investors alike.