Saudi Arabia will allow the private sector to import feed barley, state grain buyer SAGO confirmed. The agriculture ministry took the decision after requests from private sector businesses, SAGO said.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest importer of feed barley, will restore a private sector role in the trade after two years during which it was handled solely by the state, said Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdel Rahman Al-Fadli. Saudi Arabia used to import its feed barley through the private sector but since 2016 the responsibility for imports has been held by the state grain buyer, the Saudi Grains Organisation (SAGO). The kingdom has become a major importer of wheat and barley since plans to become self-sufficient were abandoned in 2008 because farming in the desert was draining scarce water supplies.
The private sector will have to adhere to the same specifications as SAGO when handling imports, state news agency SPA quoted al-Fadli as stating. “We were expecting Saudi to revert to the private sector soon when it comes to barley,” one Middle East grain trader told Reuters. “The details should come out soon,” he said.
Imported barley is used for animal feed in Saudi Arabia. Domestic feed barley consumption in 2017/2018 is forecast to decline by about 14 percent to 8 million MT. Barley consumption is forecast to decline by another six percent in MY2018/19 compared to MY2017/18. The Saudi government has been encouraging the use of processed feed instead of raw barley with the aim to reduce barley imports by 1.5 million tonnes by 2020.