Jeddah, like Abu Dhabi, now also plans for a strategic water storage.
Abu Dhabi would run dry within 48 hours if its desalinization plants would be damaged (e.g. because of an oil spill or a sabotage act). A strategic water storage is meant to mitigate this threat.
Possibly it will also provide an opportunity to use and effectively store intermittent solar energy more efficiently as GCC countries increasingly eye solar based desalination.
Following our earlier post about Iranian wheat imports, Iran is now sorting out with India how it could pay for oil deliveries with food.
Iran is reeling under sanctions of its financial sector and has problems in receiving payments of its oil exports. Earlier this year India decided to try to settle 45 percent of its oil trade with Tehran in Indian rupees, which are not fully convertible and globally traded. This would offer the opportunity to settle Indian oil payments without the involvement of foreign banks.
As food is exempted from even the more extensive US sanctions regime, oil for food barter agreements could offer a similar and timely relief for Iranians trade policies.
“Exports from the South Asian nation accounted for about $ 2.8 billion versus imports of about $ 11 billion in 2010/11, according to government data.” The trade would also offer advantages to India. After a bumper harvest it has problems stockpiling wheat in the producer regions in the North East of India and distributing them in the rest of the country.
The Indian government ended a four year old wheat export ban in September 2011.
India used to be a large wheat exporter to the Gulf until 2005, but has all but disappeared as a supplier since then. Productivity gains of the Green revolution fell behind population growth for the first time in the 1990s. Even with the recent bumper harvest it is unlikely that it will reconnect with this old role. Together with Pakistan it remains the major supplier of basmati rice to the Gulf region though.
Saudi Arabia has entered a $66.7 million agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) over technical assistance to 17 agro-projects in the Kingdom. Fisheries are targeted in particular.
‘The MoU will include the transfer of technology, sustainable management of natural resources including water and forests, sustainable crop production and protection, the rational management of animal and fisheries resources, animal health, capacity building and the strengthening of rural institutions.’
It aims at small-scale agricultural producers and fishermen, to help them increase and diversify food production. It ties into Saudi Arabia’s plans to move away from water intensive cereals to water saving technologies and more value added crops.
According to the Saudi Minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim, the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture wants to hand over the file of foreign agricultural investments to the Saudi Company for Agriculture Investment and Animal Production (SCAIAP).
Currently the file is handled by the Minister of Commerce and Industry in the lead (chairman) and the Minister of Agriculture as his deputy. The undersecretaries of the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Finance and Foreign Affairs are also part of the team.
The decision would mean a considerable upgrade of SCAIAP, which is held by the Public Investment Fund, which is in turn run by the Ministry of Finance. So far there have not been disbursements of SCAIAP funds even it has been launched in 2009 already.
This has led to complaints by the private agro-business community of Saudi Arabia in the past, which is supposed the primary beneficiary of SCAIAP funds.