AL-AHSA – Some regions of Saudi Arabia will suffer from a shortage of water over the next few years, the Minister of Agriculture warned at a forum Wednesday.
“The Kingdom might face a problem in meeting its future water needs. Water used for municipal, industrial and agricultural purposes should be rationalized so that it becomes available for all,” Dr. Fahd Balghaneem, the Agriculture Minister, said at the Forum of Raising Efficiency of Irrigation Water.
He said that irrigation schemes are viewed by the ministry and its personnel as a “big obsession” and that the ministry will continue to exert painstaking efforts to increase the efficiency of irrigation water. “The ministry’s goal is to make the Kingdom one of the most efficient countries in using water in the agricultural sector,” the minister said.
“The ministry understands the importance of striking a balance between the scarcity of water and achieving food security and rural, social and economic development in the Kingdom,” he added.
“We focus on crops that need little water, using modern water-saving irrigation systems, increasing the productivity of agriculture through the rational use of water, to produce large agricultural production with small quantities of water,” he said.
The Kingdom attaches great importance to water schemes and is working to support farmers, the minister said. The government increased the agricultural subsidy to 75 percent to encourage projects that use modern irrigation systems, he added. “The government also raised the price of purchasing dates from SR3 to SR5 for farmers who use modern irrigation methods. It will increase awareness of programs to rationalize and organize the use of water,” Balghaneem said.
The ministry has recently started working on a four-year national program to rationalize the use of irrigation water for agricultural purposes. The program aims to raise farmers’ awareness about scheduling irrigation methods through building fields to manage the use of irrigation water. — Okaz/SG