Saudis target $4 billion for fisheries and aquaculture investment

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In an interview with Arab NewsNFPD CEO Dr Ali Al-Shaikhi ohas defined an eight-year investment strategy who hopes to develop the country’s seafood industry, improve food security and increase agricultural exports. Al-Shaikhi joined the Fisheries Development Program after working for the food company Almarai and serving in the national aquaculture group of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Shaikhi said, “It was an idea that in 2010 turned into an initiative. A steering committee has engaged KPMG to study the potential of the Kingdom’s seafood sector.

“The committee also visited many countries to study aquaculture, and they assessed the potential production of Saudi seafood at more than one million tons. A market study found that per capita seafood consumption in Saudi Arabia was less than 50% of the global average – 11 kilos instead of 24.

Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood for people around the world. Globally, aquaculture production must double by 2030 to keep pace with demand. These increases in demand for aquaculture products, food security considerations and job creation have generated an increased need for skilled workers.

Find out how you can be part of this growing industry.

Al-Shaikhi explained that four years later, the steering committee’s report outlined a clear strategy that included improving the Kingdom’s aquaculture production facilities and increasing its production capacity. Al-Shaikhi said working in partnership with government and private enterprise has enabled the NFDP to implement its growth strategy quickly and efficiently.

“We are focused on creating jobs, protecting local markets and improving and promoting our seafood industry,” he said.

He added, “We are preparing the investment platform. We have spent close to SR300m ($80m) in the last three years on research alone – conducting feasibility studies, measuring environmental impacts, identifying the right species to grow, calculating consumption rates food, etc.

“We have established fish and fish feed hatcheries and are developing feed processing techniques. Once all of these critical elements are in place, the investor or farmer will have all the knowledge required and can focus solely on production.

Although fisheries have deep roots in the Gulf, aquaculture has begun to gain momentum over the past decade as a pathway for food security, rural development and job creation. According to Al-Shaikhi, more than 3,000 Saudis are employed as technicians or other specialists in the aquaculture sector.

“We are launching an initiative to develop a hundred [citizens] as leaders in aquaculture – with 70 percent of funds coming from the private sector and 30 percent from government.

“And we have just signed an agreement with a local academic institution to train 3,000 Saudis for the aquaculture and fisheries sector. Foreign academics are coming, so we will have knowledge transfer from them as well as from international governments. with whom we cooperate.

“Aquaculture is one of the key things that will improve the quality of life in many countries, and of course we want that to happen in Saudi Arabia,” he concluded.

See the full interview here.

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