Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia is seeking to play a significant role in raising food security in the Middle East and across the world. The latest initiative comes after Riyadh has secured a high level of domestic food security.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr. Khalid Al-Fuhaid confirmed that the initiative put forward by King Abdullah to support foreign agricultural growth will aid global food security. Riyadh is also hosting a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Food Security consultative workshop this week to highlight this issue.
He added that the international community has benefited from recent decisions on food security taken by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. “We in Saudi Arabia are cooperating with FAO for the benefit of the country, and in line with the resources available to us,” Fuhaid said.
The Deputy Agriculture Minister highlighted the decision taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, to invest in agricultural development abroad and strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position in this regard. Experts claim that the project, entitled the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad, will help secure greater international food security.
Fuhaid said: “This project will be one of the features that will strengthen food security at the local market, and across the world.”
Director of the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad, Saad Khalil, said that Saudi Arabia will seek to invest in 35 countries across the world.
In comments published by Arab News, Khalil said: “Since the launch of the initiative in 2009, the fund’s work has been conducted in several stages. The first phase involved visiting and surveying the targeted countries on a ministerial level accompanied by technical teams that are directly involved with the initiative.”
He added that the second phase involved establishing the Saudi Company for Agricultural Investment and Animal Production (SCAIAP) and implementing the decisions of the cabinet to approve agricultural loans granted by the fund.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ministry of Agriculture Undersecretary Jaber Al-Shihri said: “Political instability, civil wars, unrest and strikes, can have a negative effect on local and foreign investment, whether agricultural or not.
“As for the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad, the state is seeking to sign framework agreements with the states targeted for investment to protect this investment and facilitate the investment mission.”
Shihri confirmed that a number of such agreements had already been signed, while other agreements were still under discussion.