The agricultural sector has a pivotal position, as it contributes to providing about 25% of the nation's total food needs available for consumption from a total area of agricultural land amounting to 3.9 million hectares, and provides the equivalent of 450 thousand jobs. The Kingdom has implemented many policies and support programs for the agricultural sector with the aim of increasing its ability to improve its productivity, which contributed to the increase in gross agricultural GDP at constant prices of about 52.8 billion riyals in 2013, compared to 40.0 billion riyals in 2010, at an increase rate of about 32.0% during that period. . The contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP in non-petroleum sectors is estimated at about 3.4% in 2013, and agricultural production has achieved high levels of self-sufficiency in many agricultural products, and this has been increased by a surplus in production that has been exported abroad such as potato, eggplant, cucumber, okra, dates and eggs Fresh milk, the sufficiency rates ranged between 110-120%. The crop area in 2013 was about 694.5 thousand hectares, of which cereal area represented about 23.9%, and the vegetable area represented about 15.3%, while the area of fruits, including dates, represented 32.6% (70% of dates, 5% citrus). The agricultural sector has exceptional support from the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques - may God protect him, but he suffers from many obstacles that limit his development and cause its decline, including the scarcity of water resources represented by the lack of rain and the lack of surface water resources such as lakes or rivers, in addition to this The low quality of the agricultural soil represented by the decrease in its content of the organic matter and the basic nutrients of the plant, coupled with the high content of total calcium carbonate and the weak ability of the soil to preserve water. Therefore, overcoming these obstacles requires a lot of concerted efforts that necessitate the development of agricultural practices practiced by farmers, which are represented in modern technologies that increase the efficiency of the use of irrigation water, and reduce the impact of salinity, and the use of triple treated water for irrigation, in addition to the use of soil improvers to reduce Irrigation water loss, use of remote sensing techniques and geographic information systems in irrigation water management, determination of crop water needs, determination of appropriate methods and mechanisms for fertilization and crop nutrition, raising the efficiency of integrated pest and disease management and reducing the use of chemical pesticides. It is necessary to study the effect of climate changes on the physiology, flowering and production of crops and raise the awareness of farmers of the importance of applying modern agricultural methods that are in line with the prevailing climatic conditions in the Kingdom, the exceptional water characteristics and the nature of agricultural soils, with a view to improving the production capacity of quantitative and qualitative agricultural products, and increasing the efficiency of resource use Natural resources available to achieve conservation and sustainability. Therefore, King Faisal University has contacted the Würtingen Research University (WUR) as a major knowledge partner to contribute to the implementation of this initiative, according to the objectives set by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
1. Increase productivity :
. Proposing a cropping pattern commensurate with the relative advantage of crops in different regions.
. Reducing losses and damage from agricultural crops during different production stages and post-harvest operations.
. Increased marketing efficiency.
. Development of agricultural operations to increase production and improve farmers' income.
. Economic assessment, value chain analysis of agricultural products, market study and opportunities to open new markets.
. Developing technical knowledge and skills related to good agricultural practices (GAP) among engineers, extension workers and farmers.
. Disseminating and applying some modern agricultural techniques and encouraging farmers to apply them to increase productivity.
. Guiding farmers towards implementing recommended agricultural practices, by viewing the results of their application in the extension fields.
2. More efficient use of resources :
· Raising the efficiency of using natural resources (soil and water) to achieve sustainable agricultural development.
· Integrated application of modern irrigation systems in water management to rationalize their consumption.
· Rationalizing the use of fuel and various energy sources used in agricultural operations and the orientation towards the use of renewable energy.
· Improving the use of agricultural inputs (fertilization, irrigation, control, etc.).
· Maintaining environmental balance and natural biological control.
· Use soil conditioners to increase their production capacity, save water, and reduce leaching.
· Improve soil fertility and texture by adding organic materials (humus).
· Designing training programs to raise the efficiency of human resources working in the agricultural sector, including agricultural engineers and extension workers.
3. Improving the quality of food products :
Achieving this goal is largely focused on transferring knowledge effectively to enhance human and institutional capacity building, and this is through applied mechanisms to accompany and adopt new technologies that include advanced irrigation systems, soil and plant feeding strategies, integrated pest control, field systems, precision agriculture, remote sensing systems, geographic information systems, and water Treated irrigation, harvest and post-harvest techniques, manufacturing efficiency, and marketing efficiency, in addition to technologies acquired from relevant local, regional and global institutions to achieve the following:
. To obtain an agricultural product free of the effects of pesticides and of excellent quality, in line with the requirements of the global market.
. Providing alternative sources of irrigation water.
. Implementing integrated pest management programs at the rural community level and encouraging the use of biological control after testing it for beneficiaries.
. The expansion of organic farming, and cultivation without soil.
. Raising the marketing capabilities of agricultural products through diversification of products and creating marketing opportunities for beneficiaries through field training to learn about modern marketing systems, including diversity in industries that depend on agricultural products.
. Providing sources and publishing some modern agricultural technologies and encouraging farmers to apply them to improve the quality of agricultural products.