JEDDAH — Contract farming and increased trade ties between Greece and Saudi Arabia were the focus of discussions with Saudi government ministers during a recent visit by Greece’s vice minister for development and competitiveness.
“We had the opportunity to discuss with the Saudi government, His Excellency the minister of agriculture, whether we could find ways for contracted farming for the Saudi government,” Greece’s vice minister for development and competitiveness, Notis Mitarachi said.
The high level discussions come a week after a visit by a Greek trade delegation of 26 fruit growers to the Foodex Saudi 2014 exhibition in Jeddah. “We’re trying to help them now with a more packaged deal,” Mitarachi said about the Greek fruit growers.
Under contract farming, growers agree to produce certain quantities of a product for a particular customer at a contracted price.
“We’ve done a big deal like that with Phillip Morris for Tobacco, so a lot of farmers in north-eastern Greece produce exclusively for them,” Mitarachi said.
The minister said the guarantees under such contracts do put more pressure on growers, but also mean that banks often step in with finance, giving growers working capital.
The minister also said that business council and a formal investment agreement between the two countries, to provide mutual protection of investment, was also discussed.
“The council will consist of the key people from both countries, especially those involved in trade, to provide a forum for businessmen that want to come, create events, create a network, a safety net,” he said.
During his two days in the Kingdom, Mitarachi also met with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, to discuss investment opportunities.
“He believes that there is a lot of potential in the Greek tourism industry, which in his view requires more investment, requires an upgrade of the product,” the minister said.
Prince Talal visited Greece last year after an invitation from Greece’s minister of tourism, Olga Kefalogianni.
At the time there were reports that the Prince was interested in purchasing the Greek island of Dia, however Mitarachi would not disclose details of his recent discussion with Prince Talal.