Organic Agriculture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 1:00 PM
Desert Salon 4-6 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Khalid Al-Redhaiman, Prof. Dr. , Qassim University, Buraydah, Saudi Arabia
The organic agricultural sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is young and dynamic. All information contained in this report has been compiled by the authors within the framework of the “GIZ/MoA Organic Farming Project.” Global markets for certified organic products have been growing rapidly over the past two decades. Growth has mainly been driven by the increasing health awareness among consumers. In consonance with global trends, Saudi Arabia is seeing a growing consumer demand for healthy and high-quality foods. Domestic organic markets are emerging in the Kingdom. However, in search of high-quality, healthy products, some segments of Saudi society have shifted their consumption patterns toward imported organic foods. Organic agriculture offers substantial opportunities for small farmers in the Kingdom. The shift from severe competition at local conventional markets to an organic niche market offers attractive price premiums in a growing market environment. However, the benefits of organic agriculture are not confined to business opportunities. In addition to market considerations, organic is environmentally friendly and protects the Kingdom’s valuable resources by strengthening soil fertility, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. In mid 1425H–2005G, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioned GIZ to support the development of the organic agri­culture sector in Saudi Arabia, bringing in extensive international expertise in organic sector development. Over the past 7 years, the Organic Farming Project has established governmental structures and support services to expand organic production and foster the further development of this sector. To help meet the high standards for quality, the Ministry of Agriculture introduced its own Saudi National Organic Regulation and Standards in 2010. Standards include guidelines for production, processing, trade, and the import of organic products. However, organic market development in the Kingdom is largely dependent on consumer trust in certified organic products. As a result, the Ministry of Agriculture is safeguarding consumers’ interests via its national organic control system. Its thorough implementation, together with the monitoring and surveillance of all organic-sector activities, is the core function of the Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA). This first Organic Sector Study offers an overview of a young but steadily growing organic sector. I hope this study will provide not only comprehensive insight into the current status of organic agriculture in the Kingdom but also an understanding of the potential health, economic and environmental benefits of this important segment of agriculture in the Kingdom.
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