Saudi Arabia is set to import seven million to 7.5 million tonnes of barley this year and is looking at long term deals with major grain exporter Ukraine, the finance minister of the world s biggest barley buyer said on Sept. 7.
We import around seven to 7.5 million tonnes of barley as feed for animals, Saudi Arabia Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab finance ministers in Abu Dhabi, adding he expected Saudi barley imports to be around that level in 2011.
While Saudi wheat supplies are managed by the state-run Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organization (GSFMO), the main animal feed barley is still privately imported, although government controls are tightening.
The government capped profits for barley importers last year after a surge in barley prices due to poor harvests in Russia and Ukraine drove a sharp rise in red meat prices in Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh is now looking at long-term contracts and agricultural investments in Ukraine to ensure the world s biggest crude oil exporter gets the grains it needs to feed a growing population for years to come.
The government has decided a few months back on new arrangements for management, including the imports of barley, he said.
With Ukraine, we discussed extensively the co-operation between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia, with regard not only to barley but also on grains in general, he said.
We look at Ukraine as one of the destinations for investments in agriculture.
Saudi Arabia accounts for around half of global barley imports, with imports in the 12 months to July 2010 amounting to 7.7 million tonnes, according to official statistics.