John Lawton, General Manager of the Agricultural Technology Company in Saudi Arabia, said that when it comes to output and efficiency, Saudi’s dairy industry is among the world’s best, making it a major exporter of dairy derivative products to neighbouring Gulf and Middle East countries.
“This export has lead the Saudi government to insist that for every litre of milk exported from the Kingdom, an equivalent amount of one kilogram of livestock forage is imported,” said Lawton, a speaker at the Agribusiness Outlook Forum, a feature of AGRA Middle East which takes place from 26-28 March at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“Already this has significantly increased the importation of alfalfa and other baled forages into Saudi, which has in turn released arable land for the production of other crops.”
According to Business Monitor International (BMI), milk production in Saudi Arabia will grow by 27 per cent by 2016, reaching 2.4 million tonnes. The Kingdom is home to some of the most advanced dairy farms in the world, with the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company, Almarai a leading example of cutting edge technology in harsh desert climates.
Lawton will be speaking at Agribusiness Outlook Forum about GCC food security from an agricultural perspective. He said that the poultry industry in Saudi is also expanding, with Almarai again leading the charge, as poultry consumption in the Kingdom is expected to increase by 14 per cent by 2016, reaching 1.6 million tonnes.
He added: “In just over 30 years, Saudi Arabia has developed an agricultural base which can produce very significant percentages of the whole population’s crops, and in some cases, 100 per cent such as dairy, poultry, eggs, potato and other specialised crops.”
“The whole of agriculture in the country, and in other parts of the MENA region is a classic example of how the undeveloped desert areas can be developed with modern technology and efficient irrigation systems.”
While Saudi’s dairy and poultry industries continue to expand, its grain industry will soon be completely phased out. Since 2007, wheat production has fallen by 12 per cent annually, and will be eliminated by 2016. BMI predicts that 2.3 million tonnes of wheat will be imported into Saudi in 2013, up 80 per cent from the level seen in 2008.
“In many ways, because water-intensive crops, including wheat and cereal grains are not encouraged in the long term, the focus has been shifted toward animal production,”
The anticipated surge in demand of forage, grains, poultry, livestock and peripheral agribusiness products and services into Saudi Arabia will come as good news to more than 200 exhibitors taking part at AGRA Middle East next month in Dubai.
The three-day event is the only show in the region covering agribusiness, poultry & livestock, fishing & aquaculture, floriculture & horticulture and agricultural machinery & supplies, providing a comprehensive all-in-one platform for exhibitors to showcase their latest innovations, products and services to an audience of key regional decision makers.
In addition to the Agribusiness Outlook Forum on 26 March, AGRA Middle East will also host the Poultry Outlook Forum on 28 March, and the inaugural Middle East Horticultural Summit, on 27 March.
The 2013 edition will also mark the launch of the first AGRAme Awards, recognising individuals, departments, teams and organisations that have contributed to the growth and development of the agricultural industry with focus on best practices and innovative approach.
Held under the patronage of His Excellency Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, AGRA Middle East is sponsored by platinum sponsor Al Dahra Agriculture and supported by the Ministry of Environment and Water, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Flower Centre.
AGRA Middle East is co-located with VET Middle East, the leading event for the burgeoning veterinary industry in the region, presenting an opportunity for international suppliers and local distributors to showcase latest technologies, equipments and medicines in the veterinary sector.