Arab News | 27 October 2009
Ghazanfar Ali Khan
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Turkey will hold talks to map out a future strategy for cooperation in the agriculture sector on Tuesday. The talks, to be held within the framework of a major initiative launched by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to ensure food security, will be led by Minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim, while Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Mehdi Eker will attend from the Turkish side.
“Saudi Arabia and Turkey wanted to enhance their relations in the field of agriculture,” said Sadik Arslan, charge d’ affaires at Turkish Embassy, when asked about the talks’ agenda. Arslan said that Eker and his seven-member entourage were on a three-day official visit to the Kingdom following an invitation extended by Balghunaim. He said that Riyadh and Ankara were keen to explore a new cooperation agenda, especially in the agriculture sector.
The move is significant keeping in view the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure food security, which has led to the acquisition of farmlands in several countries and the formation of joint agriculture projects with partners abroad.
Turkey, today, has emerged as one of the most favorite destinations for Saudi investments in agriculture projects. Turkey is one of the few self-sufficient countries in the world in terms of food. It’s fertile soil, adequate climate, and abundant rainfall permit the farming of almost all kinds of crops.
In terms of agricultural land, Turkey is also one of the largest countries in the world. About 35.5 percent of the country is composed of arable land, while15 percent consists of forests. The cultivated land is more than 26.5 million hectares.“The alluvial land and their availability for growing crops have generated a lot of interest among Saudi businessmen, who wanted to make agriculture investments in Turkey,” said a recent report. Moreover, Turkey also wanted to undertake joint projects with Saudi Arabia, it said.