One of the most remarkable greenhouse projects of this year is the 44 hectare greenhouse complex that is being realised in Saudi Arabia at this very moment. Behind the project is Faisal al Batal of the Dava corporation. “It is our goal to participate in the vision of the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia that in 2030, there will be enough food for the local market and for export”, he shares. “And so far the expansion is going perfect."
”When finished, the Dava Corporation enterprise will be the largest greenhouse project of Saudi Arabia. The total project of 44 hectare was announced earlier this year in cooperation with Dutch greenhouse builder Debets Schalke. They are currently realising the first phase of 15 hectare Venlo-Greenhouse. The Serbian company Agrikol is taking care of the construction works. “The new greenhouse will be ready July 1st”, says Nikola Petkovic with Agrikol.
Tomatoes and peppers
In the greenhouse tomatoes will be grown. Faisal explains how he sees both tomatoes and peppers as attractive crops to grow and the circumstances in Saudi suitable for this cultivation. “Since we see opportunities for both tomatoes as peppers, we’re creating six departments that can easily switch from one crop to another.”
The facility will be equipped with pad-and-fan-cooling to deal with the heat, something of high relevance when growing in Saudi Arabia. “But since we grow in the Al-Kharj region, we will also be able to collect rain water from the glass greenhouse roof,” Faisal shows.
This region has been an agricultural region for almost a century since it offers relatively positive circumstances for these activities: the temperature rise sharply but every now and then it rains, which is of importance in a country where water scarcity is a given fact. “We’ll use water-saving irrigation techniques and a screen instalment to save energy where possible and grow in the most efficient way. Thanks to this and other high-tech techniques, we can grow produce year round.”
The year round production is important to the company and to the country in general. With the launch of the Vision 2030 program, they declared the ambition to lower the current 70% of food imports. Large-scale investments in horticulture are one of the ways how this will be realised. “The development of the greenhouse industry will only grow”, says Faisal. “We look forward to be a part of this and not only supply the local market with our products, but also make export to surrounding countries possible.”
The total project will include no less than six greenhouses realised in three phases with a central packaging - and technical area and a compartment to propagate the young plants. Following the first 14.5 hectare the realisation of the second and third phase will come along next year, resulting in the total 44 hectare project realised within a year and half and spread out over different locations.
To realise the project in the pace, the team with Agrikol, which is in charge for the total installation, currently has around 50 workers there. "Of course, it is hard to work there, but we have excellent workers, well trained workers, they are used to working in different weather conditions", they say.
“Building this fast is quite a challenge,” Faisal agrees. “However we selected reliable partners and are confident Debets Schalke and Agrikol will do the job.” And after that the real challenge starts. “To us the biggest challenges is to find good people to operate and work in the greenhouse. We want to offer high-quality vegetables and we are always on the lookout for people able to support us in this mission.”