Saudi’s Ministry of Economy and Planning joins forces with UpLink to address food insecurity in arid climates (Part 2)

Thu, January 19, 2023 at 6:26 PM GMT+1·3 min read

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 19, 2023–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) in collaboration with UpLink today launched an innovation challenge designed to crowdsource transformative solutions to enhance food security in countries impacted by low rainfall, drought, and desertification.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Saudi’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and UpLink launch innovation challenge to enhance food security. (Photo: AETOSWire)

MEP and UpLink, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) open innovation platform, made the announcement at the Forums’ 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most critical challenges, through collaboration and cooperation.

The Food Ecosystems and Arid Climates Challenge is a global call for food entrepreneurs, start-ups, social ventures, and small-medium sized enterprises to submit solutions that incorporate low or high technologies. The winning cohort will be eligible to access CHF100,000 to scale and implement their venture in regions with arid climates, while enhancing their visibility and access to networking opportunities. This is the first of two challenges focused on food systems, with a second to be launched later in 2023 on climate-smart agriculture.

Announcing the challenge at a press conference, His Excellency Faisal F. Alibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said: “Our world faces a wide range of major socioeconomic challenges, and food security is at the top of the list.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is fully committed to being a major innovation accelerator, and dedicating resources to empower and support entrepreneurs who are determined to tackle the challenge of food security, in this case in regions with arid climates.”

Around 828 million people today are hungry, while 2.3 billion are food insecure. Furthermore, 3.1 billion people globally cannot afford a healthy diet and it is estimated that 700 million will be displaced by drought by 2030.

Story continues


How food will be grown all over the world in the future, both in the countryside and in the city: IN WALL GARDENS.

Wall gardens are containers or buckets that are stacked against a facade. Holes are made in the side walls. In the bottom of each container or bucket, 1-2 holes are drilled through which water can flow to the lower containers or buckets. The bins or buckets are filled with fertile soil. All kinds of food plants can be placed in the holes in the side walls. These plant species all continue to grow vigorously in the soil that is kept moist. After all, on top of the facade garden there is a water reservoir with a small hole in both sides, so that water can slowly drip through to all containers. For example, a wall garden requires almost no maintenance.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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