In recent years, Saudi Arabia has made significant strides toward promoting Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) to achieve food security and self-sufficiency. Both private and public companies have announced new projects, funding, and partnerships in this sector. The government’s plan to invest over $1Bn in expanding plant resources and greenhouses by 2025 aims to increase the production output of fresh produce to over 1 million tons annually, contributing to the country’s goal of achieving food security and self-sufficiency.
Despite the country’s ambitious goals, the CEA sector may face challenges in the future. For example, the hot summer temperatures in Saudi Arabia may pose issues for cooling facilities. At the same time, competition from imported produce from other countries with lower operational costs could impact the viability of CEA in the region. Additionally, limited crop range and access to quality seeds and fertilizers could hamper production levels. While leafy greens, aromatics, flowers, and certain fruits and vegetables can be grown in these facilities, they may not be enough to meet the demands of a growing population that requires diverse food sources.
Finally, another issue many growers face in the region is problematic access to quality seeds and fertilizers. This exacerbates the issues listed above, as the output in many small to medium size facilities is far below the potential output it could reach with the technology they leverage. Furthermore, there is very little regulation regarding the quality of the seeds/fertilizers, and it can often be circumvented by transiting to neighboring countries such as the UAE.
Despite these potential challenges, Saudi Arabia remains committed to developing its CEA sector. With a focus on food security and self-sufficiency, the country sees CEA as a critical driver of its agricultural sector’s growth. By investing in research and development, improving infrastructure, and promoting local production, Saudi Arabia hopes to become a self-reliant and sustainable food producer…
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Photo by Devi Puspita Amartha Yahya on Unsplash
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