SAUDI ARABIA PUMPING €24.4 BILLION INTO FOOD AND AGRICULTURE IN BID TO BOOST PRODUCTION AND EXPORTS
Saudi Arabia is planning to invest heavily in its food and agricultural sectors, a senior official has said, with the aim of increasing domestic production and expanding exports.
In comments reported by Saudi media, Abdulrahman Al Fadhli, the country’s minister of environment, water and agriculture, said that the government was allocating 91 billion riyals (€24.4 billion) for the industries.
Part of these funds, around 7 billion riyals, (€1.88 billion), will consist of loans provided through the country’s Agricultural Development Fund.
Like its much smaller neighbour the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia is a net importer of food and has been keen to develop its agricultural sector through major investments.
Part of the reason for this is to improve food security, while both nations are also keen to diversify their economies and reduce their dependence on the oil and gas industries.
With limited water resources, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have seen significant investments in hydroponics, which involve crops, often leafy vegetables, being grown in nutrient solutions. This reduces total water requirements but increase energy requirements.
Saudi Arabian companies are also major players internationally in the food sector, with SIAL Paris Newsroom having recently reported on the investments in the Egyptian bakery company Egybelg by the firm’s new owner, the Riyadh-based Savola Foods.