The impact of Saudi Arabian water scarcity on the country’s agriculture and food prospects was the focus of a recent online expert panel discussion.
The webinar marked the launch of a report entitled Getting the balance right: Water resources and food security in Saudi Arabia, published by food and agribusiness specialists, Farrelly & Mitchell.
Managing Director Malachy Mitchell was joined by company partner Paul Fagan in Dublin, Najeeb Al Humaid in Riyadh and Chaitanya GRK in Dubai. The panel addressed the nature of the problem and analysed the crops, technologies and economics on which to base solutions.
Saudi is ranked 17th in the world among countries suffering from water stress. It is the top ranked country with a significantly large land area and population in terms of water stress and has had to draw heavily from non –renewable fossil aquifers.
The depletion of these aquifers has meant an increasing emphasis by the government on how to continue its food security and overall progress as a nation while maintaining existing water capacity.
Agriculture is by far the main user of the country’s water. The government is focused on how to develop greater self-sufficiency in food resources without threatening water supplies.
Crop selection plays a big part in that narrative, but the policy is also mindful of political and social sensitivities around agriculture practices in the country. The panel draw from extensive experience in providing solutions for Saudi agriculture to visualise how the sector is likely to proceed into the future.