Saudi’s Ministry of Economy and Planning joins forces with UpLink to address food insecurity in arid climates (Part 1)

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



“We must help with technology, training, funding,” : “YES, WE CAN !”

HELLO DAVOS (see communication below” :

““Countries need a food systems ministry, not just an agriculture ministry. One that relies on people-centric policies, incentivizes the private sector for early adoption of new systems, has multifaceted goals.

Proclaiming PepsiCo to be “mainly an agricultural company”, Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, USA, said his company is striving to make agriculture regenerative, sustainable and positive for the planet. As the owner of the largest private fleet of vehicles in the US, PepsiCo is makings its vehicles low-emission. “We have beautiful brands that have the power to educate consumers on sustainability,” he said.

Calling for an international agreement whereby every country would become accountable for transforming its food system, he said it is imperative to put the farmer at the centre, and make sure the farmer makes good money while using fewer resources and producing fewer carbon emissions. Emphasizing the need to “make farming sexy”, Laguarta said there will be no next generation of farmers unless farmers love their profession, earn an living and continue to invest in farming. “We must help with technology, training, funding,” he said. “It’s happening; it is the future of our company.”

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development of Norway, said it was absurd that “the very people who go hungry are food producers”, adding that “now, with increasing cost of inputs, it will get worse.”

Agreeing with Indian minister Singh that derisking should be a key element of financial support to farmers in developing countries, Tvinnereim said Norway has been able to use its taxpayers’ money to crowd in private money. “We have the technologies, we know what to do, but we need investment to create a virtuous cycle of investment.”


Did they keep CONTAINER GARDENING AND TERRACOTTEM as a “new technology” in mind ? I hope so !


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

%d bloggers like this: