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.