Saudi Arabia is marked by high temperature during the day. Its climate is quite harsh, dry desert with extreme temperatures and climatically it is not very ideal for farming. However, along with the extension of Saudi Arabia’s agriculture production, today, Saudi Arabia exports wheat, dates, dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets around the world.
Agricultural production for the years 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2008 in Saudi Arabia
The agriculture sector in the kingdom faces many constraints, the prominent are shortage of water, lack of experienced technical personnel, soil and water salinity, the rising cost of desalination, marketing problem, low prices for products, pests and diseases. Therefore, extension and education is viewed vital and essential in the developmental process that provides numerous services and undertakes multiple activities
- The kingdom is self- sufficient in wheat, fresh milk, eggs and potatoes, meeting 100% of the kingdom’s needs. General vegetables and fruits may satisfy 85 and 65% nation’s requirement.
- The intensification of agricultural extension programs to raise awareness among farmers regarding the significance of water conservation and development of manpower in the agriculture sector has received due attention in the development plans of the kingdom.
Today, environmental protection and conservation of the natural resources are subjects of prime importance in the kingdom. Extension and education can help creating awareness on their wise use
- Extension can educate farmers in employing the judicious and moderate rates of farm inputs to operate in the safe limits without damaging the environment whereas they have been practicing high input agriculture in the past.
- Extension can help devising suitable solutions to address the farming issues like: lower yields and profit margins, crop diseases, insect-pest attacks, poor marketing facilities, low water availability and poor soil conditions. Extension can certainly come up with workable solutions and help farmers to practice sustainable agriculture.
- With the involvement and the possible cooperation of all the take holders of development, extension can help embarking rural development projects that could make rural areas more attractive for the rural people. These projects can result more income opportunities, better facilities and improved livelihood and infrastructure.
- The rural masses are abandoning farming and are very rapidly coming out ot their native areas to settle down in the big neighboring cities. Better agriculture and incoming generating rural industries and enterprises can restrict them to their native areas due to the revival of rural economies.
- Extension professionals can help the kingdom achieving its objectives set in development plans towards improving the living standards and relaxing sustainable rural communities.
In extension and education “one size fits all” sort of business does not work at all. There is no single strategy, method or model that would address all issues and work on all of its clienteles. However, any extension model that focuses on: gap-filling initiatives, address prime issues faced by the farming; capacity building, regular in service training of extensions; the development of skilled human resources capable of working on the judicious and sustainable use of land and water resources towards better farming; and finally establishing a strong professional association among research, teaching and extension may hold great potential in the kingdom.