JEDDAH: RANA HAKEEM
Published — Wednesday 13 November 2013
Last update 13 November 2013 1:45 am
Saudi Arabia will be one of the few algae producing countries around the world, with production capacity expected to reach 30,000 tons by 2014, said Jaber Al-Shehri, undersecretary of research and agricultural development at the Ministry of Agriculture.
A promising project to transplant algae in Saudi Arabia aims to secure part of the local and global food requirements for future generations, said Al-Shahri this week.
Marine algae are a new source of fuel and food for mankind and animals, in addition to its contribution to the production of medicines and vaccines.
“The plan is to produce 30,000 tons of algae. The initiative already began this year and will continue until 2029,” said Al-Shahri. “The National Prawn Company started producing small quantities for experimental purposes and quality assurance.”
Ahmad Al-Ballaa, CEO of the National Prawn Company, said costs of the project might reach SR100 billion. “The costs of the research and development phase are SR25 million, and the actual production will commence by 2014,” he added.
He pointed out that the first shipment of the production is designated to German company BASF, which will be during the third quarter of the coming year.
“Several projects for aquaculture in Saudi Arabia and other regions around the world have been adopted to produce fish and sea cucumber,” said Al-Ballaa.
“After the initial stage of research and development we came up with practical and effective solutions for the cultivation of new varieties of algae, which are expected to have a role in bridging the gap in global food security.”
He said the project would be established on the Red Sea coast to the west of the Kingdom. He explained that algae are a significant component of fish and animal feed. They are also a food- supplement and constitute other forms of food for humans, in addition to their use in cosmetics.
“The project of transplanting algae is a part of a whole integrated seafood basket that the company has been working on for years now. The infrastructure of the project includes residential units, a power station and administrative buildings. The project is expected to employ more than 2,800 people, among which are 400 Saudi men and women.