On request of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture, GIZ, Germany, started to support the development of organic agriculture (OA) in April 2005. The overall mission of the Organic Farming Project was to establish a functioning and sustainable organic agriculture sector in Saudi Arabia, boost the organic market, support all sector stakeholders and raise awareness for organic food. Within a mere 7 years, the project has turned organic agriculture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into a success story. The four objectives are: (a) Increase agricultural productivity and the number of small organic farms, (b) Production of healthy food, (c) Conservation of natural resources and (d) Reduction of irrigation water consumption in agriculture.
Up to mid 2014 more than 100 Saudi organic farms have been certified and new farmers are continually converting their
production systems to organic. These farms are located all over Saudi Arabia, but most of them are located around Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, where demand is highest. Technical Features: Numerous measures in awareness raising among farmers and the public, organic production, research, training, marketing, certification, legislation, policy development etc. were initiated.
Due to the active promotion and the countrywide spread of organic agriculture, the success of organic farming is ensured. Organic farmers do have presently a save and sustainable income.
Legal Framework Conditions
The ‘Saudi Organic Law’, permitting relevant competent authorities to penalise abuses resulting from infringements of the Saudi Organic Regulation and Standards, has been approved. Based on an Organic Agriculture Policy Framework, a National Organic Action Plan (NOAP) has been developed. Saudi Arabia is the first country within the Gulf and MENA-Region with a national organic agriculture support policy. Sustainability Concerns: There is a growing demand for healthy and pesticide-free food in Saudi-Arabia that originates from the relatively high GDP per capita of 20.000USD.
The successful Saudi Arabian example (in its full dimension) can be copied by other (oil) rich countries only (e.g the Gulf States). However, small scale organic farming is feasible even without any State support; the availability of a financially strong segment of the society, ready to pay more for healthy food, is a precondition for market production.
(1) Hartmann, M., Khalil, S., Bernet, Th., Ruhland, F. and Al Ghamdi, A., 2012: Organic Agriculture in
Saudi Arabia. Sector Study. GIZ GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
(2) GIZ, 2014: Organic Farming Development Project. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, International Services. Eschborn, Germany in cooperation with
Ministry of Agriculture, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia