Minister of Agriculture and Water Dr. Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Mu'ammar said today that the goal of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in organizing celebrations of World Food Day tomorrow, October 16, under the slogan "Women feed the world", is to highlight the important role that women everywhere play in working to realize food security. Dr. Mu'ammar said that in Saudi society women have historically contributed in agricultural work to secure food for their families, adding that the Kingdom's celebration this year coincides with its attainment of self-sufficiency in a number of foods.
Dr. Mu'ammar went on to recall that in 1981, the first year that World Food Day was celebrated, the Kingdom's wheat production was under 194,000 tons. Over the next ten years, however, there was an immense leap forward, with the production of wheat totaling 4.2 million tons in 1992. By 1997, the production of vegetables had reached 2,599,000 tons, fruits 1,150,000 tons, red meat 157,000 tons, poultry 451,000 tons, eggs 131,000 tons and dairy products 816,000 tons. The Kingdom now depends far less on imports for the provision of its foodstuff needs. Dr. Mu'ammar noted that the agriculture sector realized a high average annual growth rate of 8.4 percent over the period 1969 to 1996, and that its contribution to the non-oil Gross Domestic Product (GDP) now totals 10.4 percent.