Saudi Arabia is supporting farming projects, especially amid coronacrisis. Kingdom’s plans are even being accelerated as the COVID-19 outbreak disrupts supply chains around the world and stirs memories of previous food-price spikes in wealthy but parched states.
While the coronavirus pandemic prompts some nations to review how they feed their people, Saudi Arabia boosts spending on food to curb the pandemic’s consequences for agricultural business and farming.
Ever since food crises a decade ago, Gulf nations have been working to boost domestic output and investing in farming abroad. As Bloomberg reports on Wednesday, following the virus outbreak, Saudi Arabia introduced two initiatives worth 2.5 billion riyals ($665 million) to support farmers and facilitate food imports.
According to Muneer Alsahali, head of the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), the Saudi financial support takes the fund’s budget to 5.5 billion riyals this year. To compare with last year’s volume, it is almost a triple amount.
To sum it up, 2 billion riyals will go toward bank guarantees for importers of crops like rice, soybeans, corn and sugar, Alsahali said. About 300 million riyals will reach local farmers. In addition, this year, ADF’s budget had already risen about 60% from 2019, including allocating 1 billion riyals for overseas investment.
Vision 2030 programme anticipates increasing home production of fruit and vegetables
Saudi Arabia, much of which is a desert, is encouraging growers to use hydroponics, a technology that uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods. To do that, it’s offering loans that cover a larger share of capital investments.
Food security is one of the goals of Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s blueprint for reforming the economy. The overseas funding offers low-interest loans for companies that grow crops including alfalfa, wheat, barley, sugar, rice and corn and which send at least half of the output to Saudi Arabia.
So far, investors choose from a list of 10 countries for each crop, including in Africa, the Black Sea area and Latin America, and can make their own recommendations.
Increasing home production of fruit and vegetables is one of the kingdom’s top priorities, and the nation aims to boost output of tomatoes and cucumbers by 50% this year.