Saudi Arabia has expressed its support to farmers in promoting organic farming, and to phase out production of all water intensive crops that are depleting the country’s scarce water supplies.
“The total number of organic farms in the Kingdom exceeds 130 today,” said Khlaid M. Al-Fuhaid, deputy minister for agriculture, on Wednesday night.
Al-Fuhaid said that “Saudi Arabia’s organic sector is currently undergoing transformation, which is primarily driven by the support extended by the Ministry of Agriculture and the initiative of private sector stakeholders.” The deputy minister was speaking after inaugurating a week-long Agriculture Festival at the Khuraish Road Lulu Hypermarket here in Riyadh.
The inaugural ceremony of the ‘Saudi Agro Fresh Fest From Our Land’ in Riyadh was attended by top Saudi officials and Lulu executives including Bashar Naser Al-Basher, the chief of Lulu Administration; Allewi Al-Kamshe, Human Resources manager; Abdullah Al-Enizy, Public Relations manager; and Shehim Mohamed Unni, the regional director. The same event was inaugurated at Lulu Hypermarket in Alkhobar by Thariq Al-Mulhim, director of Agricultural Extension Department in the Eastern Province.
Referring to the organic agriculture policy of the ministry, he said that further growth of organic sector can be expected over the coming years. To this end, it is important to note that the total area of organic farms in the Kingdom is over 35,000 hectares. A recent study predicted that organic farms will account for around five percent of farming area in the Kingdom by the year 2017.
In the context of depreciating water resources, Al-Fuhaid said that Saudi Arabia has plans in place to phase out production of all water-consuming crops. The crops include wheat, soya beans and animal fodder. The Kingdom needs around 2.6 million tons of wheat annually, and the Saudi government said last year it would rely entirely on wheat imports by 2016.
When asked about the support extended by the Ministry of Agriculture to the agriculture festival, Al-Naser thanked the ministry and said that the Lulu agriculture festival is features a huge range of products including about 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, mainly produced in Al-Qassim, Al-Hasa, Jizan, Qatif and Al-Kharj. A number of prizes will be given by Lulu management on this occasion.
A large number of products have also been put on sale at promotional prices. Al Naser called on the customers to visit Lulu Hypermarkets in Riyadh and Al-Khobar and buy the lowest-priced fresh fruits and vegetables. He also added that Ministry of Agriculture had appreciated Lulu Hypermarket “for organizing such festivals in a grand way and this in turn supports the local farms and also the local economy.”

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