What does the next decade have in store for Saudi’s Agriculture Industry?

Posted on 25 April 2020


Article Summary

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is cognizant of the fact that it must diversify its economy away from oil. In this regard, the government has introduced measures to encourage diversification across its agricultural produce while staying environmentally conscious. There are also measures underway to use less water-intensive agricultural methods. 

The country is looking towards sustainable agricultural practices in the future. They want to become a key player in the larger, global effort to meet the food demands of an increasingly hungry world. Combined with a growing awareness of the impending global water crisis, the country has abandoned its campaign for self-sufficiency – drastically reducing support for crops like wheat and alfalfa, that consume large amounts of water, while increasing support for organic farming and vegetables.

For a more environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural growth, the country is encouraging the production of specific foods at home, as well as, agricultural investments abroad, so that food goods can be imported back into country.

One of the answers to providing high-quality agricultural produce sustainably in the future is through vertical farming. The country, like others around the world, is planning to embrace the future agriculture 4.0 revolution, with science and technology as its driver.


Current agricultural standing

Away from oil

Future trends in agriculture

Trend 1: a different approach to forage grains

Trend 2: more greenhouses for more growth

Trend 3: agriculture abroad

Trend 4: a turn towards desert agriculture and seawater farming 

Trend 5: vertical and urban farming

Trend 6: advances in water consumption 

Trend 7: increased use of technology 

Trend 8: incorporating cross industry technologies

Agricultural Market Overview

As of 2018, the Saudi Arabia Agriculture Market was valued at USD 9.507 million. By 2024, it is estimated to reach USD 12.16 million, at an annual growth rate of 4.53%, from 2019 to 2024. 

As the largest market for agriculture in the GCC region, with one of the fastest growing populations, the demands on the agriculture sector are high, owing to the following reasons: 

- Changing consumption patterns of consumers and increasing awareness about food origin and sources

- The migration of rural communities to urban areas

- Increased presence of superstores, hypermarkets and a growing restaurant and F&B market

Forward thinking 

With a growing national demand, the patterns of water consumption in agriculture over the next decade will become a critical area of importance.  The country is facing looming water depletion in its underground aquifers. 

Diversifying water sources

Cognizant of this fact, Saudi Arabia has introduced measures to diversify to less water-intensive agricultural produce within the country, as well as introduced the initiative for Saudi agricultural investments abroad. 

Proven successes

The Saudi landscape hardly looks promising for farming, but agriculture is big business that has previously proven to be successful. From Hail in the north, the valleys near Taif in the west, to the terraced hillsides of the southwest, the country turned green due to a three-generation, nation-wide perseverance to reach self-sufficiency in wheat, poultry and potatoes. 

Current Agricultural Standing