Saudi Arabia innovates agriculture with organic farms

Saudi Arabia’s SAR 750 million (USD 200 million) strategy for innovation in agriculture has seen the number of organic farms increase by 28 percent to 312 over the last few years.

The plan aims to increase the capacity of organic farming by 300 percent, to provide sustainable food and to contribute to the economy. Organic farming is a method of agricultural production that uses natural materials to grow food without the use of (chemical) fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or genetically modified organisms.

In 2020, the country’s total area for organic farming was 27 thousand hectares compared to 25 thousand hectares in 2019. The output of organic farming in Saudi Arabia amounted to 99 tons in 2020 which indicates an increase of 60 percent compared to 2019.

Saudi Arabia has introduced a mechanism for more traceability. It allows the organic produce to be traced by consumers, who simply scan the QR codes on the products with their smartphones. The feature allows the consumer to know where and who has grown the fruits and vegetables.

An AgriTech venture known as Red Sea Farms has received SAR 37.5 million (USD 10 million) in financing or funding recently. It is one of the biggest investments in the region’s AgriTech space with investors including Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship entity Wa’ed.

Launched in 2018, Red Sea Farms’ system primarily uses salt water to cool greenhouses and irrigate crops which decreases the freshwater consumption by up to 90 percent.

The company plans to use the funding to build and retrofit more than six hectares of agricultural land in the central and western parts of Saudi Arabia. The company operates a salt water run pilot project at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Research & Technology Park.

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