The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will take part in the international celebrations of World Food Day on Monday October 16, marking the 50th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO aims at enhancing nutrition levels and rural living standards as well as increasing food and agricultural production in order to create an expanded world economy and guarantee the elimination of hunger throughout the world. The main theme of this year's celebrations is "Food for everyone". World Food Day provides a unique opportunity to focus on food security issues and the necessity of putting an end to famine and malnutrition.
Minister of Agriculture and Water Dr. Abdullah Bin Muammar today issued a statement that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has surpassed levels of self-sufficiency in a number of agricultural products, including dates, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruits and poultry, and is now exporting the surplus. Imports of foodstuffs dropped from 11.6 million tons in 1984 to only 6.9 million tons in 1993. Exports, on the other hand, jumped from 157,000 tons in 1984 to 2 million tons in 1993.
The Minister said that the Kingdom's agricultural policy aims at completion of infrastructure projects, and to this end the government has extended soft loans and subsidies to benefit farmers. In addition, fallow lands have been distributed free, and licenses issued for the establishment of agricultural projects and the construction of dams. Dr. Bin Muammar also reported that the government is combatting desertification, developing natural pastures and forestland, and protecting the environment, as well as setting up agricultural research centers, grain silos, flour mills, and date factories. On the global level, the Kingdom has been constant in extending assistance to victims of natural disasters, and gives material support to local, Arab, Islamic and international relief organizations. Dr. Bin Muammar urged all countries to cooperate in the fight against povery and famine and to adopt durable agricultural development policies for the sake of a better future for mankind.