Asir Region

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The Agricultural Development in Asir Region: Reality and Hope Forum continued its scientific sessions as organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, in cooperation with the Office of Media Experts for Studies and Consultations at King Khalid University.

The first session was entitled "The Role of Institutions in Supporting Agricultural Investment in Asir Region," and was moderated by Asir Emirate Deputy General for Development Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Duraibi. Following after, the Director of the Agricultural Fund in Asir, Eng. Mushabab Al-Qahtani, spoke about the fund's strategy in supporting the agricultural sector and its development. The Supervisor of the Bee Research and Honey Production Center, Dr. Hamed Ali Ghramah, introduced the audience to the center by pointing out that the center's main priority is built around research and finding methods to develop honey products. After that, Dr. Muqbel Al-Nuwairi presented a paper on "The Role of Bees in Agricultural Development." He explained how bees pollinate trees, control harmful insects, and eradicate viruses detrimental to vegetation. In his segment, Dr. Omar Boussada gave an overview of the vital role media can play in agricultural development and awareness, stressing the importance of developing the role of media in this field. Following after, Khaled Tarash Al-Sarhani presented a paper on the role of partnership in the agricultural field, noting that the Kingdom strongly supports the establishment of NGO’s in all sectors.

The second session came under the title "Agriculture in Asir Region: Reality and Challenges." In this session, Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Water, Dr. Ibrahim Aref, presented a paper on the "Rehabilitation of Agricultural Tracks." He referred to some of the problems that resulted from neglecting the agricultural industry and that one of the national transformation initiatives is to rehabilitate pre-existing programs. He then suggested (i) the role of local farmers should never be understated in any future action plan, (ii) reducing dependence on foreign workers in farm management is a national priority, and (iii) funding advanced research centers to increase crops is of the utmost importance. In like manner, environmental activist Ahmed Badawi presented a paper on plants in the region by pointing out that the most popular crops in the region include cedar, figs and some aromatic plants. Badawi suggested figures for the economic return of these plants for investment purposes. King Mohammed University faculty member Dr. Mohammed Hashim Mohammed Ahmed presented a paper entitled "Organic Pesticides and the Sustainability of Organic Agriculture - Vision 2030." He pointed out that organic agriculture is the process of producing crops and food products naturally. He stressed, "Organic products are the backbone of the sustainability of agriculture, and therefore it is preferred to produce them locally, thereby increasing its effectiveness and reducing production costs." This was followed by agricultural consultant Mohammed Abdullah bin Othman who spoke about his experience in rose cultivation in the Asir Region, stressing that it was a successful experiment due to an appropriate planting area and the diversity of climate suitable for the production of roses. The previous presentation was complemented by a member of an agricultural company, Nasser Bin Shaflout, who presented a paper on the reality of agricultural production in the Asir. He pointed to some obstacles such as lack of water resources and solutions to overcome this barrier to entry.

In the third session, which was titled "Fish and Animal Wealth," the Executive Vice President of the National Fisheries Sector Development Program, Eng. Mosleh Al-Zubaidi, spoke about "Aquaculture in the Asir Region." Dr. Abdullah Al-Tayeban presented a paper entitled "Livestock Projects in Asir and its Development Contribution." He highlighted the most prominent projects in the field of livestock in the Asir Region. Following after, King Khalid University faculty member Dr. Karim Said Morsi presented a paper entitled "Fish Parasites: a Threat to Fish Wealth." He emphasized the vital importance of studying these parasites from the veterinary point of view and proposed the establishment of institutes and centers in marine science, fisheries and fish diseases. He asserted that we need to find an effective method to resist parasites using plant extracts and nanotechnology. Moving on to climate change, Professor Mohammed Fawzi, King Khalid University faculty member, presented a paper entitled "Advantages of Climate Diversity Along the Slopes of the Sarawat Mountains in the Cultivation of Selected Trees." He pointed out that the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains are characterized by a unique climate that qualifies them to cultivate most of the trees known in other countries. He also related that the unique potential is further augmented by the ability to grow extraordinary tree species that only grow in Japan, such as the fruit of "dibbun" and oak trees. The session was concluded with a paper by the Investment Manager of the Tourism Branch in Asir, Eng. Nawaf bin Hussein bin Zulfa, on "Agricultural Tourism," which reviewed the reality of agrotourism in the Kingdom, proposed operations, and all methods, plans, and strategies to ensure sustainable development.

During the fourth session, four papers were presented. The Director-General of the Organic Production Department at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Ayman bin Saad Al-Ghamdi, presented a paper on "Organic Agriculture: Reality and Variables." He explained the stages of development in the Kingdom's Organic Agriculture Industry from 2005-2018. He referenced recent statistics related to the organic farming movement. This was followed by a member of the faculty from King Khalid University, Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed Eid, who presented a paper on the "Evaluation of the Use of Sludge as Organic Fertilizer." He pointed out that recent interest in the use of sludge as organic fertilizer for agricultural land has come about due to economic constraints and environmental concerns. The Director of the Plant Risk Assessment Department at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Saleh bin Salem Al-Faifi, presented a paper entitled "Hydroponics." He asserted that the advantages included the ability to control plant nutrition accurately, and the ability to improve nutrition, irrigation, and ventilation of roots. He related that there are several disadvantages to this type agricultural development that include high entry costs compared to conventional crops, and the high need for expertise and technical requirements to manage the method of growing plants without soil. The session was concluded with a paper presented by the Engineer Abdulrahman Al-Thamiri and Engineer Mansour Al-Saeed from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture under the title "The Use of Treated Water for Agricultural Purposes." They reviewed the new methods used in agricultural water treatment and its role in the production of various types of agricultural crops in accord with a specific schedule.

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Abha Chamber of Commerce Supports Study on Climate Change in Asir

On behalf of Deputy Governor, HRH Prince Turkey bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, His Excellency the University Rector, Dr. Falleh bin Rajallah Al-Solamy, sponsored the opening of the "Agriculture Development in the Asir Region Forum: Reality and Hope", which was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in collaboration with the Media Office for Research and Consultation at King Khalid University. The opening ceremony was attended by the Assistant Director of the Emirate of Asir, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Duraibi, the General Director of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Asir, Faisal bin Zayid, and numerous senior leadership figures from the University.

The ceremony was opened with a speech from His Excellency Rector Al-Solamy where he expressed his appreciation and gratitude to HRH Prince Turkey bin Abdulaziz for sponsoring the forum and for his deep interest in developing the region.

Rector Al-Solamy stressed that the University devotes considerable attention to partnering with private and governmental entities. "This forum is the fruit of a cooperative partnership between the University and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Asir. It also underscores the active collaboration between the University and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Asir through burgeoning projects and opportunities offered in the field. They come in the form of various talks and sessions presented by industry experts and include the participation of farmers, businessmen, investors, and entrepreneurs." His Excellency then congratulated the launch of the Media Office for Research and Consultation at King Khalid University.

The General Director of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Asir delivered a speech where he stressed that the field of agriculture is one of the pillars of the national economy, which has received significant support and care from the government. "Although there are a lot of obstacles that face the field from the climate, nature, and society, the agricultural industry has achieved high levels of growth and productivity in both crops and animal products. The field is rich in experience and expertise." He noted that the Ministry has created 33 governmental enterprises as part of the 2020 National Transformation Program to boost the agricultural industry and to complete a comprehensive agricultural industry strategy that includes implementing a number of innovative projects to achieve sustainability. He also stressed that the Asir Region is considered a prime location by the Ministry due to the region’s natural resources and temperate climate.

Following after, Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee President, Mohammad Hazem, announced the adoption of climate research which will help predict the future of the environment and help plan for it. He also touched on the efforts of the committee, which is centered on finding solutions, overcoming obstacles, and consolidating the services provided. He finally announced the establishment of the outdoor festival and the seasonal fruit festival. He commented that both festivals are highly anticipated and expected to significantly contribute to the marketing and sale of locally sourced produce and animal products.

The General Director of the Media Office, Dr. Ali Zuhair Al-Qahtani, explained that the forum is a model for the agricultural industry. He also emphasized the critical role of development and support provided and thanked the partnering entities for their efforts as well as the committees involved. He concluded his remarks by asking Allah that this event becomes an opportunity to highlight the reality of agricultural development in the region leading to improved resource utilization.

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His Royal Highness Prince Turkey bin Talal Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of the Asir Region, will sponsor the "Agriculture Development in the Asir Region Forum: Reality and Hope." It will take place this Wednesday at the Abha Palace Hotel under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture in collaboration with the office of Media Experts for Research and Consultation at King Khalid University.

This forum is of great importance to the successful development of agriculture, animal products, and fish products in the region; it highlights the methods and approaches to provide job and investment opportunities in an effort to create a favorable economic environment that will spark prosperity and growth in the region's natural sources. The forum aims to set the strategies and tools that will develop investment opportunities in agricultural projects, animal products, and fish resources in accord with Vision 2030.

The forum intends to discuss and highlight the approaches that contribute to the development of agriculture, animal products, and fish stock in accord with the principles and views of the Saudi 2030 vision. It will underscore the ground realities of agricultural development in the region.

It is worth mentioning that the topics of the forum include investment opportunities and the role of the financial institutions and private sectors in supporting farmers and agricultural business. The forum will also include 22 speakers from different governmental and private entities in 4 sessions with 12 goals. The second day of the forum will include an exploratory excursion to the region's national parks and farms.

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