The Saudi embassy in Abidjan informed the Saudi private sector about a study of a strategic cooperation project between the Kingdom and the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire for the production and manufacture of rice, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The project will allow the production of one million tons of rice within the first year of the agreement and around three million tons by 2025.
According to sources, the Saudi embassy expressed the desire of the Ivorian side that Saudi Arabia invest in this project.
Earlier this year, the two countries signed a general agreement for cooperation in the economic, commercial and investment fields, as well as in education, arts, culture, media, tourism, youth and sports.
The agreement reflects the Saudi government’s keenness to develop its external relations with countries around the world and to strengthen cultural bonds and common interests.
The study, which was examined by Asharq Al-Awsat, noted that rice was one of the strategic food sectors for the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Saudi Arabia, as well as for the majority of developing countries. It is also a sector that requires important water resources, a suitable climate and large investments.
The study underlined that the first two elements - water resources and a suitable climate for rice cultivation – were available in Côte d’Ivoire, while the Kingdom enjoys a private sector capable of investing in this strategic area with all institutional, regulatory and legal guarantees that reassure the investors.
According to the study, many entities have visited the country with the aim of exploring the important capabilities in the field of rice cultivation, including French, Indian and Israeli, without significant results that would allow reversing the trend of increasing dependence on rice imports.
But a large-scale giant project in this field can be proposed within the framework of cooperation between the Kingdom and the West African country that would allow the production of one million tons of rice one year after the beginning of the investment and up to 3 million tons in 2025.