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‘Reef Saudi’, a Successful Program Based on Rain-Fed Agriculture

Riyadh: The Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program “Reef Saudi” has significantly reduced the harvesting costs of rainfed crops like wheat and barley. Utilizing mechanization, the program reports a reduction of up to 90% in harvesting expenses.

This achievement was made known at a workshop recently held in Riyadh, titled “the national plan for rainfed agriculture”. The event brought together various stakeholders, including representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, specialists in the field, and a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) delegation.

Discussions centered on the national plan for rainfed agriculture, which, in the initial phase, prioritizes rainfed crop cultivation in Jazan, Asir, Al-Baha, and Makkah. Subsequent phases, guided by updated rainfall maps, aim to expand the program to other regions.

The program targets various rainfed crops, including sorghum, millet, sesame, wheat, and barley, and aims to increase self-sufficiency regarding these crops, r
educe dependence on imports, enhance productivity through water-harvesting techniques and modern irrigation methods in areas with inherent advantages, and improve livelihoods of small farmers through higher income, and overall well-being.

Reef Saudi adopts a multifaceted approach to achieve these objectives. Key initiatives include promoting best practices in agriculture, distributing high-quality seeds tailored to specific production areas, and developing and implementing programs specifically focused on sorghum, sesame, and millet crops.

The program also offers advanced technical services for post-harvest operations, including the introduction of automated harvesting techniques to minimize costs and losses.

Additionally, Reef Saudi empowers small farmers by providing extension services and technical support to enhance their skills, and helps share knowledge on water harvesting and irrigation systems suited to local needs. It also facilitates the establishment of cooperative societies to deliver essential
services to farmers.

The achievements of the program were highlighted at the workshop. Among the figures, over 370 machineries have been deployed through the mechanization initiative, benefiting more than 2,256 farmers. This facilitated harvesting over 7.8 million square meters of land and prepared over 1.3 million square meters for agricultural use.

The Kingdom boasts a total of 334,534 hectares suitable for rainfed agriculture; 33,358 hectares are targeted for investment in the first stage.

Since 2020, the program has supported 2,078 men and 1,527 women farmers engaged in rain-fed crop production. The program has provided a cumulative total of SAR41.86 million in support to rainfed crop producers from 2020 to the first quarter of 2024. Total production of rainfed crops reached 45,366 tons in the mentioned period.

Rainfed agriculture is a sustainable and adaptable production strategy for arid regions. It suits various climatic conditions, and contributes to food and water security, and to improving soil

The success “Reef Saudi” had in modernizing and incentivizing rainfed agriculture paves the way for more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices throughout the Kingdom.

Source: Saudi Press Agency