Since 2005 GIZ has been commissioned to promote the development of the organic farming sector in Saudi Arabia. During the past seven years the sector has seen remarkable development: in 2008 the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture established a Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA) in cooperation with GIZ. At the same time, a standalone National Organic Regulation was developed for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, drawing on the relevant EU legislation, and was adopted in 2008. The DOA is charged with regulating the organic sector. Until 2010 local organic operators were certified to the standards of the European Organic Regulation. Following the recognition of the Saudi Organic Standards (late 2010) and the introduction of a Saudi National Organic Logo in early 2011, operators were certified for the first time to the new Saudi organic standards in the same year. Moreover, as part of the national market development programme, GIZ and FIBL work on developing value chains and improving integration of Saudi organic producers with the retail sector.
Acting together with international partners, the Saudi Arabian government and private sector stakeholders, GIZ has now developed a national Organic Agricultural Policy for Saudi Arabia which was presented in Riyadh on 9 October 2012. In addition to targets for productivity increases and the production of healthy food products, the agricultural policy strategy similarly considers resource conservation objectives. Possible support measures were also presented. A decision regarding the adoption of the Organic Agricultural Policy is expected before the end of the year. It is envisaged that an action plan will be adopted in the first half of 2013. Conference attendants included the Saudi Minister of Agriculture and high-ranking officials of related ministries as well as Saudi organic sector stakeholders. A wide range of organic products was presented and available for tasting. 180 persons attended the event.
Following keynote addresses delivered by Dr. Saad Khalil, organic farming supervisor at the Ministry of Agriculture, and Dr. Fahd Balghunaim, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Marco Hartmann (GIZ Project Manager) outlined the current development status of the sector as well as future challenges. Prof. Dr. Dr. Dieter Kirschke, Head of the Agricultural Policy Department at the Humboldt University of Berlin, then presented the Organic Agricultural Policy, followed by presentations highlighting the role of research and development (Prof. Urs Niggli, Director of FiBL Switzerland) and the importance of locally adapted, water-saving production systems as well as options for state involvement (Andre Leu, IFOAM President). The event concluded with the presentation of a marketing plan to be implemented from 2013 onwards, and an outline of the Department of Organic Agriculture’s monitoring function (Dr. Thomas Bernet, Market Development Expert at FiBL Switzerland, Ayman Al Ghamdi, Head of Department at DOA).
Saudi Arabia’s organic sector is currently undergoing transformation which is primarily driven by the support afforded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the initiative of private sector stakeholders. With the introduction of the Organic Agricultural Policy and the associated support measures, further growth of Saudi Arabia’s organic market sector can be expected over the coming years.
- Marco Hartmann, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Marco.Hartmann@giz.de
- saudi-organic.org.sa: GIZ project homepage on organic farming in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia