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Food and Agriculture

One of the obvious disadvantages of living in a desert climate is the inability for the environment to support many types of viable agriculture. Basic subsistence agriculture depending on herding is about all that could be followed in past years. Now however, Saudi Arabia has made great strides ahead, particularly in the dairy industry and cereal farming. Yet these developments are heavily dependent on continual supplies of large quantities of water feed and fertilizer. These huge farm projects in the Kingdom have hardly been commercially viable and without help from the government would struggle to compete with foreign imports.

It is a fact that Saudi imports almost two thirds of its food. This is not a long term solution and the kingdom needs to look to the future to attain food security.

The answer may be in hydroponics – farming in tanks, large sheds and even underground bunkers with food crops trickle-fed nutrients while growing in a liquid base. Scientific study has shown that hydroponic farming can produce higher yields. Perhaps one day the Empty Quarter may be covered in glass greenhouses with transparent solar panels producing power and shedding the suns light on row upon row of plants stacked in shelves and fed liquid nutrients – and all this designed by PMU students!

Whatever the future holds, opportunities abound for research and development in engineering, biology and chemistry within this sector.

It is known for example that plants respond well to mild magnetic fields and electric discharge, perhaps by studying these phenomena one day a PMU student will solve the problems of long term food security for the Kingdom and the world!