Fresh produce: your health, our future.
Towards building a healthier Saudi Arabia.
Second in the series ‘Healthy Food, Healthy Lifestyle’
Healthy food, healthy lifestyle series of events are characterised by a high level of interactivity. At turns, Dr. Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Riyadh and Maarten Smit, M.Sc., strategic business partner of Saudi Greenhouses Management & Agri Marketing Co., confronted the participants with challenging and sometimes provoking statements, to initiate dialogue and discussions between and amongst the workshop participants.
The workshop brought together participants from the public sector, knowledge institutes, production, trade and retail. Producing enough fresh vegetables and consuming the recommended intake of vegetables and fruits are important for our health and for future generations. It is recommended to invest actively to promote these, to prevent further health issues like obesity and diabetes. A societal change is needed. One key factor for success is inserting this topic in educational curricula at all levels in KSA.
The desired increase in production of fresh produce requires a sustainable framework to minimise excessive use of natural resources like water and energy. In addition to this, stepping up education of farmers in sustainable and integrated pest management practices is needed. A smart balance between the increase of domestic production and importing produce during gaps, to meet the preferred intake level, should make the necessary increase in volume financially sound.
Reduction of food-losses
An equal emphasis should be given to reduction of food-losses / food-waste so as to increase production and availability of sufficient (quality) produce, which is in line with Saudi policy. Improvements in the supply chain (good governance, cold chains, planning and transparency, logistic alignments and IT infrastructure, cooperation, etc.) are needed to reduce food-losses adequately and boost consumer confidence.
At the consumer’s level, more demand for quality fresh produce is expected. To develop this tendency, the retail will play an important role, e.g. in promoting market-style shopping. The introduction of an indication on the products of sustainable fresh produce may be important in this respect, in order to give more transparency in the chain.
The Netherlands is already engaged in most of these areas in Saudi Arabia and is ready to further partner with Saudi Arabia in reaching these goals.