Agricultural farms fall into ambit of inspections

Expatriate domination in farm sector coming to an end

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH
— Saudi Arabia has brought agricultural farms within the ambit of verification. The authorities have completed collection of data about agriculture farms in six provinces — Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf, Tabuk and the Eastern Province, which account for most of agricultural produce in the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Water concluded by the end of Ramadan an exclusive campaign called "Sajil" to register farm details including GPS latitude positions along with all particulars.

The farms that failed to register with the ministry will not eligible to avail of electricity and diesel required for operating water pumps for irrigation.

With the completion of Sajil, the authorities are able to monitor any of part of agricultural farms with all details.

Many agricultural farms are believed to be maintained by expatriate workers through informal agreements with their owners in some of these regions. They produce vegetables and other crops besides dates.

In a bid to save water, the Kingdom has been targeting agriculture farms that cultivate green fodder, wheat and other unsustainable crops. The Kingdom has decided to halt cultivation of green grass through a Cabinet decision to save precious water and also huge subsidies.

The sprinkle irrigation system requires 435,000 liters of diesel to produce 1,067 tons of grass that would fetch SR151,000 in value. But the Kingdom spends around SR900,000 in the form of subsidies and other support measures, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

A 50-hectare grass farm consumes 1.5 million cubic meters of water annually, which is equal to the amount of water utilized for drinking purpose by 41 million people, the report further added.

According to dairy field experts, 500 to 1,000 liters of water is required to produce 1 liter of fresh cow milk in the Kingdom.

The large dairy companies such as Al-Marai have already started importing grass from abroad.

The cost of animal feed is likely to rise further in coming months as grass feed cultivation is coming to an end.

Earlier, the Kingdom advocated agricultural self-sufficiency. However, after considering proportion of subsidies and limited water resources were making some of agro products unviable, it decided to gradually discourage their cultivation.


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