Sejong: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) of the Republic of Korea said that a USD 4.83 million contract for smart farm construction was concluded between MANNA CEA (Korea’s smart farm technology company) and Al Mafhom Al Jadid Agriculture Co. (Saudi Arabia’s company) on 24 May 2024.

The contract conclusion is a fruitful outcome achieved through the MoUs signed between the Korean and the Saudi Arabian sides in September 2023 when the 3rd delegation of the Korea-Middle East Shuttle Economic Cooperation Group was dispatched to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The delegation was headed by Vice Minister Han Hoon of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

At that time, the economic cooperation delegation created opportunities for the governments and companies from both sides to discuss exchanges and cooperation in diverse fields, including a smart farm. By taking advantage of this opportunity, MANNA CEA signed an MoU with Al Mafhom Al Jadid Agriculture Co.

The contract signing ceremony was held at the place of business of MANNA CEA in the county of Jincheon in Chungcheongbuk-do, a province in central South Korea on 24 May, with the attendance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Republic of Korea; the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency; MANNA CEA; Al Mafhom Al Jadid Agriculture Co.; and DOHWA Engineering. Vice Minister Han Hoon, who attended the event, discussed the ways of enhancing cooperation between South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The contract is about constructing a smart farm of 6,000 square metres using aquaponic farming methods in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hajed Hashan, CEO of Al Mafhom Al Jadid Agriculture Co. said that MANNA CEA’s technology is eco-friendlier because it consumes smaller amounts of water, thus raising efficiency and helping reduce the amount of chemical nutrient solution. Hajed Hashan added that, by taking into account this technological advantage, he signed the contract.

Aquaponics, an integration of aquaculture and hydroponics, is an ecological circulation-based farming method whereby nutrient-rich organic matter produced in the process of raising fish is fed to hydroponically-grown plants.

Vice Minister Han Hoon said: “The public and private sectors have continued joint efforts by using Korean companies’ advanced technologies. This has made it possible to achieve the MoU signed last year having led to today’s fruitful outcome. To keep the exports and construction project orders of smart farms on a growth trajectory, we will continue to provide multifaceted support for Korean companies, including developing inter-ministerial cooperation models and strengthening government-to-government (G2G) cooperation between South Korea and Saudi Arabia.”