COVID-19 prompts Saudi food security focus

Food Security

The need for flexible supply chains and a robust food security strategy has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges in the global food trade. This is especially true for import-dependent countries like Saudi Arabia.

In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia’s policy focus was on achieving self-sufficiency. It offered generous subsidies to produce various cereal crops. This strategy resulted in KSA becoming one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat in the early 1990s.

By the 2000s, the government had recognised that this policy was unsustainable, due to an overreliance on irrigation water from non-renewable fossil aquifers.

Over time, a more nuanced approach to food security has emerged. This approach focused on three key strategic pillars:

  • The promotion of sustainable agricultural practices at home with a focus on shifting production to higher value crops.
  • Building resilient supply chains through the development of local F&B manufacturing and logistics infrastructure;
  • Oversea investment in priority areas along the global food value chain; and

The importance of food security was reinforced in the KSA’s Vision 2030, where it is included as one of three core strategic objectives.

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Michael Sweeney

Senior Researcher

Michael is a senior agri-food economist with Farrelly & Mitchell and has consulted on numerous assignments across Europe, Middle East, Africa and globally.


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