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Factories in Saudi Arabia’s food sector reached 1,320 in 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aims to tackle global food insecurity by supporting the government’s investment in innovation, revealed a top official of the Ministry of Economy and Planning.  

Hosam Rowaihy, the head of the Decision Support Unit and Senior Advisor to the Minister of Economy and Planning, addressed this at the national launch of the Food Ecosystems in Arid Climates Challenge at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.  Run by UpLink, an open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, the challenge is a global call for food entrepreneurs who are generating innovative solutions to achieve food security amidst intensified droughts and desertification. 

“The Ministry of Economy and Planning’s partnership with UpLink is an opportunity to create and support a network of innovators that will build unique solutions,” said Rowaihy.  The Kingdom’s ministry signed a cooperation agreement with UpLink in May of 2022 to “expand the scope of the most innovative solutions which address sustainable development challenges,” the ministry said at the time.   

Rowaihy noted that as the pandemic takes a toll on global hunger, the Kingdom redirects its focus on tackling the issue of food insecurity and malnutrition around the world. “As of 2022, 828 million people are affected by hunger worldwide, 2.3 billion are food insecure, and 3.1 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet,” said Rowaihy. Given Saudi Arabia’s climate context and the challenges that come with it, he stressed that the Kingdom holds its position as a major innovation accelerator, dedicating resources to empower and support entrepreneurs who are determined to tackle the global challenge of food insecurity.  

For the world to reach Zero Hunger, Rowaihy pointed out that “innovative approaches must be implemented along with the investment in today’s youth, who are able to bring novel solutions with agility and speed.” Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley reviewed the latest developments in the food sector. This comes as Saudi Arabia’s private sector also has a vital role in providing the stocks and availability of supply in the markets, which led to overcoming the implications of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on global food markets. Al-Fadley addressed the private sector’s role in developing local stocks of feed inputs like maize, soybeans and barley, as well as the sector’s stimulation mechanisms. The minister underlined the vitality of consistency and cooperation between the involved entities to ensure the continuance of availability and quality of food commodities.