oases, agricultural projects, dairy production, metric tons, watermelons
Because Saudi Arabia has long been a net food importer, agriculture has been targeted as a key area of development. Since the late 1980s a large wheat surplus has been exported, and the country has achieved self-sufficiency in many dairy and poultry products. The lack of water results in only 1.7 percent of the land area being cultivated. Irrigated lands located near oases have been virtually the only sites of cultivation. Many of the foreign workers and technicians who have been brought in are engaged in agricultural projects.
Saudi Arabia’s crop (with annual output in metric tons) in 2001 included cereals such as wheat, barley, and sorghum, 2.21 million; fruits such as dates, grapes, and citrus, 1.2 million; and vegetables and melons such as tomatoes, watermelons, and onions, 1.8 million. Livestock, many used for dairy production, included 7.6 million sheep, 4.3 million goats, 400,000 camels, and 297,000 cattle.
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