The institutions are advancing social agriculture to help farmers achieve economic profitability while promoting environmental sustainability.
The idea that it takes millions or billions of dollars to make a significant difference in social agriculture is being dispelled by the University of Arizona and Saudi Arabia institutions.
Working in partnership to develop pilot farming projects with price tags of less than $50,000, the institutions are advancing social agriculture to help farmers achieve economic profitability while promoting environmental sustainability.
By definition, "social agriculture" and "strategic agriculture" are the development and implementation of strategies that provide farmers - in this case from villages in Saudi Arabia - access to technology, solutions and innovations, said Turki Faisal Al-Rasheed, a graduate of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a faculty member.
Al-Rasheed is leading the effort with Joel L. Cuello, a UA professor of biosystems engineering, and Kevin M. Fitzsimmons, a UA research scientist and CALS director of international programs.
"We're not reinventing the wheel," Al-Rasheed said during a recent visit to the UA. "We're basically writing an agriculture strategy for every region of Saudi Arabia, and then we want to put together a master plan for the small-scale farmer that we want to have implemented as a national strategy."
The model is relatively simple: Work directly with farmers to identify problems and find effective, low-cost solutions as they try to sustain their business.
Al-Rasheed worked with three Saudi universities - Ha'il, Al Baha and Al Kharj - to help identify villages the UA contingent could visit to meet with farmers, analyze their issues and problems, and determine if there was an opportunity to help.
The group visited three villages near Ha'il in the summer of 2015 with a plan to look for effective strategies that would require little funding but make a big and immediate impact.
Read the rest of this June 21, 2016 UA News article here: https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/ua-saudi-universities-partner-farming