(MENAFN - Arab News) Minister of agriculture fahd bin abdulrahman balghunaim wrapped up his official visit to new zealand on saturday following discussions on various aspects of food safety and security with the experts
'the saudi agriculture minister wrapped up his new zealand trip on saturday after a very positive talk on food safety and security" greg lewis deputy head of mission new zealand embassy told arab news here on sunday
During the visit the minister chaired the saudi side in the meetings of the joint saudi-new zealand committee at its 5th session on wednesday he said. he further said that a delegation of 27 saudi arabian officials led by the minister also visited massey university's manawatu campus to learn from the university's agricultural and food safety expertise
Massey is the top agricultural school in new zealand and research and development is the building block of the new zealand economy which is based very strongly on exports which form close to 95 percent of its food production
The delegation also visited the milk and dairy products related research center in palmerstone where they were briefed on the activities of the center. commenting on the visit prof. peter kemp head of massey's institute of agriculture and environment said in a statement 'the university is developing strong links with saudi arabia particularly in agriculture and education. it is part of our international outreach and this visit is a reminder of the breadth of our agriculture expertise.
Kemp further said that the kingdom is very interested in increasing their agricultural knowledge. they are also prioritizing agricultural education and are keen to learn what they can from massey
'one of their food strategies is to buy farmland in other parts of the world and develop that through their companies so they're looking for expertise in how to run large-scale farm systems whether it's livestock or cropping which massey can obviously provide" he said
He further pointed out 'on the more intensive side we do actually have expertise in cow nutrition cow welfare and veterinary disease control.
Sources in riyadh said balghunaim was in new zealand for economic talks to encourage increased trade and to investigate training opportunities in food safety and pasture management. it is also being seen largely in line with the king abdullah initiative for food security
The initiative represents a shift in government agricultural strategy as it moves to phase out a 30-year program to reach self-sufficiency in wheat and other essential food crops. that goal has been reached but it has also depleted the kingdom's scarce supplies of underground water and according to a report the kingdom will be largely dependent on imported wheat from overseas destinations by 2016
State-owned saudi agricultural and livestock investment company (salic) was established in 2011 to work in this direction with a paid-up capital of 800 million and has the mandate to become a global agricultural investor and partner with agribusiness-related businesses worldwide
A report by the un's food and agriculture organization (fao) last year said salic's objective is to become a global agricultural investor targeting bulgaria hungary kazakhstan kyrgyzstan poland romania the russian federation ukraine and uzbekistan as potential investment 'target geographies." african countries like egypt sudan and ethiopia are also targeted
Gulf co-operation council (gcc) countries — saudi arabia bahrain kuwait oman qatar and the united arab emirates are a major export market for new zealand importing up to 90 percent of all the food they consume
Last year they bought around 983 million of new zealand dairy products and 194 million worth of meat
Earlier new zealand's primary industries and agriculture minister nathan guy also visited kingdom to build on its already well-established relationship met with his ministerial counterpart and also visited the site of a new zealand agribusiness service hub and demonstration farm currently under development near dammam.