SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia has successfully exported fresh tomatoes to Europe for the first time, defying its arid climate and historical reliance on imports.

The key player behind this exceptional feat is Dava Agricultural Co., utilizing state-of-the-art greenhouses and vertical farming.

Wissam Abdel Samad, Chief Commercial Officer at Dava, shares the origins of this transformative initiative: “The project commenced in 2019, covering over 107 hectares with a focus on high-tech greenhouses and vertical farming. Our goal is to achieve a daily production capacity of 165 tonnes by 2024.”

Highlighting the motivation behind the project, Wissam emphasizes the nation’s commitment to food security: “Saudi Arabia aimed to ensure a continuous supply of agricultural produce year-round. Having achieved successful operations, we set our sights on a new challenge – selling surplus production at competitive prices, especially during the winter season.”

Facing a surplus during local market price dips in the winter, Dava posed the question: “Why not export?” Wissam elaborates, “The European market, particularly the Netherlands, presented itself as an ideal choice due to favorable prices and convenient logistics.”

Acknowledging the collaborative effort, Wissam credits the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, Saudi Export, and Saudi Cargo for their support, under the leadership of CEO Mr. Faisal Al Batal.

The recent success story unfolded with an experimental shipment of 5 tonnes, marking the first-ever export to Europe on February 12, 2024, in collaboration with Dutch company Lehmann & Troost. Wissam reveals, “The product received a premium classification, meeting the demands of the European market.” A subsequent 10-tonne shipment is scheduled for February 27, paving the way for a projected export of 12 tonnes per day in 2025.

Dava’s product range includes vine tomatoes, beef tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, strawberries, and mushrooms.

Wissam details the company’s commitment to freshness, employing refrigerated trucks and innovative packaging. Advanced techniques such as climate control, efficient irrigation, and automated harvesting contribute to operational excellence.

Dava’s venture into exports signals broader plans, as Wissam outlines upcoming projects: “We have cultivation systems for leafy greens during non-vegetable seedling exploitation periods, a strawberry farm with semi-close and mechanical cooling, mushroom production in vertical close systems, and advanced hydroponic agriculture for additional vegetable farming.”

The company is also set to establish a sister company for Vegetables and Fruits Distribution, encompassing a sorting, packaging, and distribution center.

Wissam explains, “This initiative will significantly enhance Saudi Arabia’s export capabilities and enable us to import fruits and vegetables globally, distributing them across the Kingdom.”

In conclusion, Wissam expresses the company’s commitment to furthering Saudi Arabia’s agricultural landscape: “We are dedicated to continuous innovation, ensuring food safety, and contributing to the growth of the country’s agricultural sector.”

With Dava’s pioneering efforts, the desert’s potential for agricultural prosperity has taken a significant stride onto the global stage.

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