JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest barley buyer, may increase grain imports by 16 percent in the 2011-12 marketing year on demand for animal feed, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization forecast.
Grain imports will climb to 12.91 million metric tons in the year through June from 11.16 million tons a year earlier, the Rome-based FAO wrote in a report on its website Tuesday. The outlook for imports was raised from 12.16 million tons in October.
Saudi Arabia plans to phase out water-intensive crops including wheat by 2016, according to the FAO. The country stopped subsidies for barley production in 2003 to save water.
Wheat imports are forecast to be a record 2.3 million tons, partly for use in feed to substitute barley and yellow corn in animal rations, the FAO said. Barley imports are expected to be 7.3 million tons and corn purchases are seen at 2 million tons, the report showed. – Agencies