Saudi’s NFDP seeks USD 4bn investment in aquaculture

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JEDDAH/Saudi Arabia, 1 March 2022: Saudi Arabia’s National Fisheries Development Program (NFDP) official reaffirmed plans to attract over USD 4bn in foreign and local investment to the country’s aquaculture sector.

Dr Ali Al-Shaikhi, CEO of the NFDP, told the local news agency that a study conducted by a committee in 2010 suggested that the kingdom has the potential to produce over a million tonnes of seafood. This was followed up by a report in 2014 that recommended the improvement of the country’s aquaculture facilities under the guidance of the NDFP.

In 2020, the country’s aquaculture sector produced 100,000 tonnes, but officials plan to increase this to 300,000 tonnes by 2025 and 600,000 tonnes by 2030. Approximately 450,000 tonnes of this total will come from marine fish farms, while the remainder will come from shrimp farms and land-based fish farms.

Al-Shaikhi joined the NFPD in 2017 after serving in the National Aquaculture Group.

“We are preparing the platform for investment. We have spent almost USD 80m (SR300m) over the last three years only on research carrying out feasibility studies, measuring environmental impacts, identifying the right species to be cultivated, calculating feed consumption rates and so on,” local news agency reported.

“We have created hatcheries for fish and fish feed and we are developing food processing techniques. Once all these critical elements are in place, the investor or farmer will have all the knowledge required and can just focus on production,” he added.

“Now we are working with the private sector to achieve our goals. We identify investment opportunities and make it easier and faster to invest in terms of new regulations and government support.”

In the Saudi aquaculture sector, there are currently over 3,000 technicians and NDFP intends to provide financial assistance to 100 young Saudis to study aquaculture abroad because domestic aquaculture courses do not exist, with the private sector contributing 70 per cent and the government providing 30 per cent of the funds, Al-Shaikhi stated.

In addition, he spoke about an agreement with a local academic facility for Saudis to be trained in aquaculture and fisheries.

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