Among the most serious dilemmas facing development programs in developing countries are; The dilemma of the absence of strategic planning, as many development programs and projects are prepared with quick, short and sometimes improvised plans, which makes these programs and projects vulnerable in the future to faltering or failure, and it can be said that Vision 2030 laid the foundations for a new mechanism for preparing and implementing plans for development programs and projects in the Kingdom. It was prepared in a professional manner based on objective data that took into account the advantages of the Kingdom, and included pillars and commitments that branch into a set of programs, initiatives and implementation plans.The agricultural sector in the Kingdom is considered one of the most controversial sectors among specialists and those interested, as this sector has witnessed many fluctuations and changes, and I will limit my talk in this article to the date palm and dates sector, which has witnessed several stages. And, in a later period, the support continued in the form of soft loans, and this support led to the expansion of farmers and their competition in planting palm trees, until their number in the Kingdom in 2019 AD – according to the agricultural bulletin issued by the General Authority for Statistics – reached more than (30) million palm trees. And in order to realize the magnitude of this number, it can be compared to the number of orange trees in the Republic of Egypt – which is the second country in the world in the export of oranges – as the number reaches (12) million orange trees.
It is known that the palm tree sector in the Kingdom depends almost completely on labor, and it did not involve mechanization or technology. Preparation and preparation for date palm fruiting in its various stages and harvesting depends on manual labor, and this year, due to the Corona pandemic, the palm sector faced the problem of labor shortage. The expatriate workers – who happened to be abroad – from returning to the Kingdom, and the stopping of bringing in new workers led to a shortage of workers working in palm farms and caused a major crisis in the business of harvesting the crop, and some farmers found themselves confused about their crops, and it is not an exaggeration to say that some Or a little part of the dates left in its palm, and in addition to the problem of employment, the palm sector suffers from the red palm weevil scourge, which has expanded in recent years in some areas and has become a threat to this sector, and dates suffer from a marketing problem, in addition to not benefiting from palm waste, and others One of the problems that miss the opportunity to take full advantage of this existing economic wealth.
In order not to reproduce the dilemmas in other forms, the question that should be asked at this stage is: What is the Kingdom’s (Ministry of Agriculture) future plan towards the date palm sector? Is there a clear implementation plan to deal with this large number of date palms and the abundant production of dates? Does the ministry have a clear vision for exporting dates externally, and what are the details of this vision .. its time stages, tools, methods, and methods of implementation? Does the Ministry of Agriculture include in its plans to enter into with the Public Investment Fund to invest in this sector in a large and orderly manner in line with the vision of (2030), and aims to develop the tools and techniques of this sector, and betting on it as one of the sectors eligible to be among the economic tributaries in our country?
It is important to emphasize that this sector receives great attention from the state. Years ago, a noble order was issued to establish the National Center for Palms and Dates, which aims to contribute to the development of the date palm and dates sector. The program for the prevention and control of the red palm weevil was also approved, for which an amount of one billion was allocated. Seven hundred and sixty-six million riyals, and a year ago, a Cabinet decision was issued that included the mechanisms for implementing the program through the formation of a permanent higher committee in which several government agencies participate, and the formation of sub-committees in the emirates of the Kingdom’s regions, but this attention that the state pays needs from the executive authority, which is the Ministry of Agriculture to clarify The future policy of this sector, and how can benefit from this large volume of date palms and dates, develop its agricultural and marketing tools and practices and transfer them from random individual efforts to organized institutional work in which production and marketing work is integrated according to a clear vision that makes the most of this wealth that has not been properly invested Until now.