Saudi Arabia

GIEWS Country Brief: Saudi Arabia 19-December-2018

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FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Wheat production phased out in 2016, green fodder phasing out in 2019

  • Cereal import requirements forecast to increase in 2018/19

  • Subsidy cuts moving slower, new VAT scheme introduced in January 2018

Wheat production phased out in 2016, green forage phasing out in 2019

To stop depletion of local water reserves, the country terminated its wheat cultivation by the end of the 2015/16 marketing year.

The production of green fodder is expected to be phased out in 2019. Although no penalties are in place for farmers not complying with the phase-out programmes, State purchasing and support programmes are no longer in place. Farmers of phasedout crops are encouraged to engage in alternative sustainable production activities such as greenhouse farming or production of fruits and vegetables using advanced drip irrigation techniques.

A small wheat and barley crop of no more than 10 000 tonnes, respectively for traditional specialty bakery products prevails.

In light of the decreasing domestic agricultural production and strong domestic demand for food and feed, the country is encouraging agricultural investments abroad for products to be then imported. This initiative targets wheat, rice, barley, yellow maize, soybeans and green forage.

Cereal imports to increase in 2018/19

Cereal import requirements in the 2018/19 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 18 million tonnes, about 5 percent above the previous year and the five-year average. Imports of barley and maize, mainly used for feed, constitute the bulk of the cereal imports and are forecast at 8 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes, respectively. Wheat imports are expected to remain at an average level of 3.4 million tonnes, while rice imports are forecast at an average level of about 1.2 million tonnes. The country strives to maintain its wheat stocks equivalent to eight month of consumption.