Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Implications for Agricultural Extension and Education

  • Mirza B. BaigEmail author
  • Gary S. Straquadine


Saudi Arabia is a country consisting largely of desert terrain, with limited naturally occurring ground water and is subject to extremes of temperature typical of an arid climate. The country is scarcely ideal for agricultural development. However, recognizing the importance of food security, the kingdom initiated several programs to advance facilities, services and farm inputs, including water, for the farming communities to increase food production and feed more of its citizens. With less than favorable circumstances, the kingdom successfully attained self-sufficiency in wheat, dates, eggs, fresh milk, and some vegetables. Although its share of the GDP is quite low, the kingdom’s fertile regions make agriculture and agri-business the third largest sector in GDP revenues. The agriculture sector has also helped improve the livelihoods of rural population. Yet, producing crops with the heavy application of irrigation from the limited and meager water resources posed serious threats to the sustainability of natural resources of the kingdom. The situation required major changes in the present farming practices and the adoption of sustainable agriculture concepts and practices in the Saudi Arabia. Increasingly, it has become important to educate the farming community to use the natural resources, including water, with sustainable mindfulness. This article presents the current scenario of the agricultural sector, the potential of sustainable agriculture, and the possible role of extension and education in converting agricultural production to sustainable practices in the kingdom. The purpose of this article is to establish the importance of agricultural extension in developing the relationship between sustainable agriculture and rural development initiatives.


Sustainable agriculture Rural development Natural resource management Environment Agricultural extension Capacity building 



The authors are extremely thankful to the Saudi Society for Agricultural Sciences, Saudi Arabia for extending the possible financial assistance for the completion of the studies. The valuable support extended for the publishing of this research is thankfully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society, Faculty of Food and Agricultural Science, College of Food and Agricultural SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and LeadershipOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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