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Saudi Arabia to build 110,000 square meters horticulture area to ensure food security in the country

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Stef Bottinelli
City of Neom in Saudi Arabia being built

Picture courtesy of Neom

Saudi Arabia has enlisted the help of Van der Hoeven, a Dutch horticultural company that creates, builds and operates sustainable greenhouse projects to grow year-round crops even in countries with the most extreme climate, to build a horticulture area in the kingdom.

The horticultural area is said to be the size of 15 football pitches according to, and will be build on the outskirts of Neom, a new city currently under construction in the north west of Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea cost.

Van der Hoeven has been tasked with building and operating two tests facilities build in different climate zones that, according to the Dutch company “will serve as commercial scale pilots to optimize technological configurations. In one location a novel solar and seawater driven cooling system will be introduced to operate the greenhouse throughout the extreme summer heat without making use of fossil fuels or putting a strain on local energy grids.”

Van der Hoeven will design, build, operate and maintain the two facilities, which cover a combined area of over 110,000 square meters. The project will be managed by the Dutch company over several years, in what Gulf Business reports to be a $120m contract with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Michiel Schoenmaeckers, CEO of Van der Hoeven said of the project: “A design, build and operate contract of this scale is unprecedented in the industry and thus we are very pleased to have been selected. As Van der Hoeven, we have a rich tradition in creating sustainable horticultural solutions to the highest technical and environmental standards. The scope of this contract allows us to realize and demonstrate the latest technologies, with the aim of bringing the horticultural industry forward on a global scale in terms of carbon neutral climate control, efficient water management and A.I.-driven crop growing and harvesting.

The project is one of many Saudi Arabia is investing in to ensure the food security of the country. Due to its landscape and hot temperatures, the kingdom has heavily relied on imports. Recently its Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) signed two new deals to boost plant-based food production in the Kingdom, to promote the use of locally grown crops to develop meat and dairy alternatives. The Ministry also announced the creation of a new research centre to advance agricultural product development and scale up new technologies for producing meat and dairy substitutes. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) signed an agreement with American company AeroFarms to build and operate the largest vertical farm in the MENA region, with an annual production capacity of up to 1.1 million kgs of crops. 

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