Saudi Arabia - Ban on Green Fodder cultivation comes into effect

On November 5th 2018 the Saudi government’s ban on cultivating green fodder became effective. The ban aims to  reduce the pressure on the country’s –already exhausted- renewable water resources (According to an estimate by UNDP, 89% of freshwater in Saudi is spent in agriculture sector, and 57% of it is from non-renewable aquifers).  The plan to phase out the local cultivation of green fodder by 2019 was issued by the Saudi Ministry of Water, Energy and Agriculture (MEWA) in December 2015.

According to MEWA, after the ban production will be slashed by 65 percent. To overcome the fodder shortage, as much as 1.1 million tons of fodder (especially high protein alfalfa hay) will be imported by dairy farms to meet their need, while other investors will import 1.5 million tons. In addition, Saudi fodder factories will produce up to 3.8 million tons of processed fodder, MEWA added.

Saudi dairies, animal farmers and feed processors have stocked their requirements of animal feed  -as well as of ingredients- for the near future, and they are attempting to develop alternative sources.

However, in its plan to phase out the cultivation of green fodder, MEWA encourages the green fodder growers and users instead to invest/increase their investments in the following:

  1. compound feed mills (to process imported ingredients)
  2. poultry projects and industries.
  3. breeding and fattening of livestock that depend on compound feeds
  4. advanced greenhouses to contribute to food security.
  5. cultivation of pastoral plants (providing that modern irrigation systems are used)
  6. saltwater fisheries projects.
  7. cultivation of green fodder outside the Kingdom for export to Saudi Arabia.

Some Dutch agribusinesses are already actively engaged in these activities, and the ban on green fodder will expand the opportunities for imported ingredients, machinery and know-how technologies to produce compound feed, as well as to produce alternative feed (seaweed for instance)