Saudi Arabia announces $533mln action plan to support food sector

Saudi Arabia’s 28 land, sea, and air exit and entry points continue to release imports of agricultural and animal products

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Farmers carry boxes containing freshly harvested corns on a farm in Al-Kharj, 77 km (48 miles) south of Riyadh December 20, 2013.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Farmers carry boxes containing freshly harvested corns on a farm in Al-Kharj, 77 km (48 miles) south of Riyadh December 20, 2013.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

JEDDAH: The Saudi Agriculture Fund has announced an action plan of SR2 billion ($533.33 million) to support local food security and production. 

It has urged companies to take advantage of the initiatives and measures, which come days before the start of Ramadan.

The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture is providing SR180 million during April as direct support for small-scale livestock owners, fish farming projects, and poultry producers.

“The fund calls on small and medium enterprises to apply for operating loans to support their production,” said ministry spokesman Abdullah Abalkhail. “The fund has received 15 funding requests so far, nine of which have preliminary approval totaling SR60 million.”

He added that some “negative practices” in the market during the past had given the illusion that there was a low supply of eggs in the country. “However, the Kingdom has achieved self-sufficiency of more than 116 percent in egg production. Local producers will also raise their production capacity by 24 percent during the coming period, in addition to expected imports from five different countries.” 

Saudi Arabia’s 28 land, sea, and air exit and entry points continue to release imports of agricultural and animal products. A total of 183,000 tons of agricultural products, in addition to nearly 100,000 heads of livestock from five countries, have been released since the beginning of April.

The Kingdom’s ministries are working to minimise the impact of coronavirus on everyday life, as well as implementing measures to contain its spread. 

The Interior Ministry isolated two neighborhoods in Al-Ahsaa governorate, Al-Faisaliah and Al-Fadhliya, as additional health precautions, preventing entry to or exit from these areas for 24 hours until further notice.

It has also updated travel permit forms for categories exempted from current movement restrictions to monitor all permit numbers and movement activities. The unified forms will be adopted in all of the Kingdom's regions from 3 p.m. on Tuesday. 

The Transport Ministry announced on Saturday it was lifting the suspension on public taxi services. These will resume only before curfew hours in cities where a complete curfew has not been applied.

A total of 1,132 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 8,274 people are confirmed to have contracted the disease. There are currently 6,853 active cases, 78 of them critical. Of the new cases 21 percent are Saudi, while 79 percent are expatriates. 

Most of the newly announced cases were revealed through mass testing activities that target high-risk areas like crowded neighborhoods and workers' dormitories. 

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said there was effective communication with expatriates. “Awareness materials issued by the Health Ministry have been translated, dubbed and published in more than 10 languages,” he said. “Our mass-testing teams who work on our field investigations consists not only of health practitioners but also translators.”

He said 280 new recoveries took the total number of recoveries to 1,329, while five new deaths had been reported, raising the death toll to 92.

The latest fatalities were of a 43-year-old Saudi male in Jazan, and four expatriates aged between 45 and 80, three of them in Makkah and one in Jeddah.

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