Organic farming becoming more popular with Saudis

Updated 07 February 2016

Organic farming becoming more popular with Saudis

RIYADH: The Saudi government is strongly supporting the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building as part of an ambitious plan to expand the Kingdom’s shift toward organic agriculture, which will be good for the country’s nutritional needs, public health and environment. Plans are afoot to establish more than 20 organic farms within a year from now.
This was disclosed by Ibrahim M. Al-Shahwan, vice chairman of the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA), on Friday. He said that “the government’s incentives for promoting organic farming and the general awareness about he benefits of organic products have led to the establishment of about 145 organic farms so far across different regions of the Kingdom.”
The SOFA deputy chief explained the trends of organic farming in Saudi Arabia, and said that organic agriculture is sustainable and profitable. “Moreover, organic farming cuts down dependence on water by 30 percent, which is indeed better for a harsh environment like Saudi Arabia,” he added.
To this end, he noted that Saudi Arabia also does not allow any genetically modified products like seeds for organic farming. “It is a matter of protection, as changing genetics in organisms can harm human beings,” explained the SOFA deputy chief. He pointed out that SOFA has an in-house farmers’ assistance department to help start-ups and farmers across the country.
Asked about the progress made by the Kingdom in the domain of organic farming, he said that “there were only two farms some 10 years back, and currently the total number of organic farms exceeds 145 in total.”
“Some farms are producing cereals, some are producing vegetables,” said Al-Shahwan, whose own farm grows about 42 diverse products.
The Saudi government supports organic farmers by paying fees for certification, extending support to improve the quality of farming and rendering technical advice. He said that the Kingdom has had a conducive climate to promote organic agriculture.
Organic farming typically refers to the production of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food products as well as cereals without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, or other items.
On the question of self-sufficiency achieved by the country, Al-Shahwan said that “the Kingdom is self-reliant in the production of eggs, cucumber, tomato, dairy products, and a few other products.” He, however, asserted that the government does not allow these products to be exported outside the Kingdom mainly to save water resources.
Only dairy products including milk are allowed by the Saudi government to be exported. “It will be the better option for a water-starved country like the Kingdom, if we can produce enough for our own consumption, keeping in view the depleting water resources, which cannot be used to grow fruits and vegetables for exports,” he added.
About innovative research being conducted by the Kingdom, especially in the agriculture and organic farming sector, he said that a number of studies and research projects have been undertaken by government agencies and universities in the country. To this end, he pointed out that a research study has suggested neem products to protect date palm trees.


Saudi Arabia says Jeddah fuel tank blast caused by ‘Houthi terrorist missile’

Updated 24 November 2020

Saudi Arabia says Jeddah fuel tank blast caused by ‘Houthi terrorist missile’

  • Energy ministry says blast was result of 'a terrorist attack with a projectile'
  • The Arab coalition says those responsible would be held to account

RIYADH: A missile fired by Houthi militants in Yemen sparked an  explosion and fire at a fuel distribution site near Jeddah on Monday.

The blast took place at 3.50 a.m. and causing a fire in a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution station, north of the city, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said. 

The blast was the result of “a terrorist attack with a projectile,” the ministry said.

Firefighting teams managed to extinguish the blaze, and no injuries or loss of life occurred as a result of this attack.

Saudi Aramco’s supply of fuel to its customers was not affected.

The Arab coalition fighting to restore the internationally recognised government in Yemen said those responsible would be held to account. 

“The terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia has been positively identified as the culprits of this cowardly terrorist assault,” coalition spokesman Brig.-Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said. 

The attack, he said, was not just an attack on Saudi Arabia’s national assets, “but on the core of the global economy and its supply routes, as well as the security of global energy.”

He said the attack was a continuation of attacks on other oil facilities in the Kingdom, including a cruise missile and drone assault in Abqaiq and Khurais last year. Those attacks were initially claimed by the Houthis, although evidence suggested they came direct from Iran.

“Substantiated evidence proved the direct involvement of the Iranian regime in those terrorist assaults using Iranian-made advanced conventional weapons,” Al-Maliki said.

He said the coalition would act to safeguard civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

“All terrorist elements who participated in plotting and executing these hostile, terrorist operations against civilians and civilian objects will be held accountable in accordance with the Customary International Humanitarian Law,” he added.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has also condemned the attack Jeddah’s fuel facility, saying it supports any measures by Saudi Arabia to protect its security.

The UAE also condemned the attack, saying it is evidence that Houthis are seeking to undermine the stability of the region.

The Yemeni foreign ministry also said the terror attack proves the Houthis' “lack of seriousness towards peace.” 

The Arab League also denounced the “cowardly terrorist attack” that targeted the fuel distribution station in Jeddah.