Water Shortages Drive Switch from Irrigation to Hydroponics
Dwindling water resources have persuaded the government of Saudi Arabia to shut down the domestic production of low-value irrigated crops. However, the Kingdom is developing as a producer of high-value food crops using sophisticated hydroponic technologies.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to around 5 percent of the world’s population but has only 1 percent of the world’s renewable water resources. It also has the highest per capita rates of freshwater extraction, exploiting more than 75 percent of its renewable water resources, due to the lower absolute amount quantity of water available in the region.
“Government policy is supportive of the domestic production of high-value crops, particularly fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus fruit and bananas.”
Governments in the region have been adopting strategies for balancing their scarce resource and growing demand for fresh water.
The government of Saudi Arabia has developed desalination plants to provide drinking water to its population. Other governments have developed sophisticated water storage facilities to manage water for current and future use.
Much of this water is used for food production. The Middle Eastern countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, KSA and the UAE – comprise 367 million hectares, or less than three percent of the world’s total land area.
However, the greater part of the area is desert, of which only a very small portion is suitable for agriculture. The region relies heavily upon irrigation for agricultural production.
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Based in Farrelly & Mitchell's Riyadh office, Partner Najeeb has extensive experience in the middle east. Najeeb has worked with major food and beverage suppliers worldwide, and has an excellent track record in supporting mergers and acquisitions.
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