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Saudi Agriculture: Exhibition’s 40th anniversary with the Netherlands as Guest Country of the Year

Saudi Agriculture is the biggest agricultural & food exhibition in the Gulf and celebrated its 40th anniversary during this year’s edition, which took place from October 23 to 26. This year proved to be special, all the more so, as the Netherlands was assigned ‘Guest Country of the Year’ by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. Doing full justice to this honor, the Netherlands exhibited its largest pavilion at Saudi Agriculture to date, and the incoming delegation of companies presented Dutch technologies in agriculture.

From produce to production: a shift in Saudi’s agricultural demands
The delegation of Dutch horticulture companies gathered early Monday morning for a word of welcome and a kick-off meeting by Mrs. Simone Landhuis, Agricultural Counsellor, to the GCC countries. Amongst the speakers were Mr. Marcel van Nijnatten, Head of Food Security & Climate at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, and Dr. Ibrahim Alturki, Chairman of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Committee at the Federation of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce.

The speakers gave insight into opportunities within different Saudi agricultural sectors and stressed the importance of enhancing domestic food production in Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, doing business in KSA is past the point of simply exporting your produce and is more than ever about cooperating and sharing knowledge to boost local food production. This message did not come as a surprise to the Dutch companies, as their presence at the exhibition was already heavily tailored to finding local partners to cooperate with. During the interactive session, the positive changes in the Saudi business climate were discussed. Saudi Arabia has actively worked on increasing its ease of doing (international) business and has identified attractive investment opportunities for the agri-food sector.

Dutch presence and contribution: Guest Country of the Year
Part of the exhibition’s opening ceremony was the signing of several agreements and MoUs, which totaled an impressive $800 million. Amongst the signatories were the Dutch companies Debets Schalke and Christiaens Group, who both signed an agreement with the Saudi horticulture company DAVA Agricultural to respectively expand or start cooperation for large production of indoor cultivation

During the following walking tour of the exhibition, the Netherlands pavilion had the honor to present itself to the Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, H.E. Eng. Abdulrahman AlFadley. This year’s Netherlands pavilion was the largest national pavilion, as it boosted nearly forty companies with individual stands. The pavilion highlighted Dutch expertise in areas such as greenhouse agriculture, climate control, smart farming, and irrigation systems. Moreover, close to twenty Dutch exhibitors who participated outside of the pavilion showcased their know-how in the fields of poultry, starting materials (e.g., seeds), animal feed, crop protection, and dairy, among others.

Part of Saudi Agriculture was the various seminars in which multiple Dutch participants partook in panel discussions and workshops. Sessions about food security, horticulture, and a special ‘guest country’ session consisted of Dutch panelists who contributed to the discussions. Furthermore, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands hosted its annual agriculture networking reception on Tuesday and welcomed Dutch exhibitors And representatives of key stakeholders of the local agri-food sector.

A successful event
Exhibitors and the Netherlands alike look back at a fruitful event, with its attendance as a guest country being a special honor. It is an honorable title considering the longstanding and good bilateral relations our Kingdoms have in the field of agriculture. Next year’s exhibition is one to look forward to, as many Dutch companies have already shown to be eager to attend once more. This exhibition has shown more than ever that there are plenty of opportunities for enhanced cooperation. Our government visions in the field of food security are aligned as we both stimulate local production close to the consumer, in line with the global SDGs.


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