Agriculture is one of the main pillars of the national economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, the agricultural sector uses about 90% of the total water consumed in the Kingdom.
The agricultural sector receives direct and indirect support from the government through loans, agricultural land and petroleum derivatives. But despite that, Saudi Arabia imports most of its food from abroad amounting to around 100 billion riyals.
Although the Kingdom has made great leaps forward in agricultural production, the type of agricultural production carried out uses technologies that consume huge amounts of ground water. This is a serious threat to water security. It is therefore necessary to re-consider the agricultural development strategy taking into consideration the importance of national food security. Agricultural technology researchers at KACST aim to develop environment-friendly competitive agricultural technologies, and localize and develop them to allow sustainable agricultural development, and protect the food security of the Kingdom. KACST will support the Saudi agricultural economy to continue to provide various food sources via the following:
Production of crop breeds of high productivity and quality and of limited water consumption by development of genetic technologies.
Development of technologies that contribute to water consumption rationalization in agriculture such as a new design of greenhouses.
Working with the concerned bodies to develop agricultural policies which contribute to the best consumption of water in the agricultural sector.
Production of barley fodder of high production and quality, and limited water consumption through aqua agricultural technologies and tissue agriculture.
To accelerate work on these projects and to obtain quality outputs within a short period, a food security program has been launched for agricultural technologies in desert areas. This program aims to develop agricultural technologies to realize sustainable food security for the Kingdom, and to enhance economic development in collaboration with several government bodies, universities and agricultural companies.