28% increase in organic farms in Saudi Arabia

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s organic farms increased to 312 last year, compared to 244 in 2019, a growth rate of 27.7%, while the total organic agricultural areas for 2019 was estimated at 24,517.89 hectares, and in 2020 it amounted to 26,632.48 hectares, with a growth rate of 8.8%, while the quantities of organic production for 2019 amounted to 6,1441.45 tons, and in 2020 it amounted to 98,558.81 tons, with a growth rate of 60%, a senior official said.

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Ayman Al Ghamdi, Director of the Organic Production Department at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said organic farming is a method of agricultural production, both plant and animal, that depends on the use of natural materials to produce food without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, or even genetically modified organisms or materials derived from them.

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Saudi authorities have urged producers of organic products to obtain their QR code, which makes their products’ origin traceability possible for consumers.

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Saudi Arabia has introduced origin traceability for all organic produce in the international and domestic market, with every vegetable and fruit being traced back to its source by scanning a dynamic QR code.

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Fines for fraud

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The ministry stressed that anyone who violates the provisions of the Organic Agriculture Law will face penalties ranging from a warning to a fine not exceeding SR1 million, with the suspension of the license for a period not exceeding one year, followed by the cancellation of the license.

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The violations include the use of unauthorised inputs in organic farming, fraud by selling non-organic products as organic, as well as marketing of local organic products that do not carry the Saudi national logo for organic products, or the use of seeds or seedlings that are not permitted in organic farming.

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Offences also include marketing production inputs for use in organic agriculture that do not conform to the regulation.

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How the system works

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Under the Saudi organic farming system, each vegetable or fruit has a dynamic QR code sticker, which consumers can scan with their smartphones, allowing them to track the product from farm to table. The feature provides farmer-level traceability to the end-consumer, enabling them to know where and who has grown the fruit. The feature provides footprint data of the journey of each product from pre-harvest till market shelf.

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$200m organic farming plan

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In 2018, Saudi Arabia unveiled its organic farming action plan, which was approved by the cabinet, and has allocated SR750 million to support it.

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The plan aims to increase organic production by 300 per cent. Its other objectives include providing safe food, sustainable, highly profitable farming, which will be an important resource for the national economy.

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