by Mohammad Adarbeh and Hamid Al-Attas
Aramco Citizenship Efforts Help Build Up Jazan Farmers
Today, the rich aroma of coffee fills a countless number of places in the world, and a countless number of people awake each day to that smell of fresh-made coffee.
Many crave it for the energy it provides, providing the get-up-and-go that puts us into motion no matter where we are and what time it is. Even along endless desert roadways, you often find someone parked on the side of the road simply enjoying a cup of coffee, putting their long exhausting journey and dreariness of the road behind them.
Beans supported by this project scored higher than 80 points on a 100-point scale in multiple tests conducted by third parties. This has qualified them to be graded as “specialty coffee beans” by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).
Jazan — Aramco is rarely the first word that pops into people’s minds when it comes to coffee, but in the Kingdom’s west, the company has been helping coffee farmers improve the quality of their products and increasing the region’s share.
Through an initiative by the company’s Citizenship Division, Aramco has helped Jazan coffee farmers increase profits by training them how to use advanced irrigation technologies that has conserved about 80% of their total water consumption.
Also, the company has provided the farmers throughout the Province the tools and training needed to improve their crops, helping them bring a better product to market.
Earlier this year, Aramco highlighted these efforts at the seventh Coffee Festival held in the Al Dayer Province under the theme of “A Warm Cup of Coffee for a Warm Welcome.” Here, HRH Prince Mohammad bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, governor of the Jazan Province, commended the company’s efforts, sponsorship of the festival, and endeavors to materially support the coffee farmers.
For his part, Sulaiman A. Al-Jared, manager of Government Affairs, Western Province, emphasized Aramco’s societal role in supporting people with unique professions and skills, and equipping them with the knowledge, experience, and tools they need to become effective contributors to the development of the Kingdom and diversifying its sources of income.
Approximately 150 farmers, which account for 90% of the beneficiaries of the initiative, participated in the festival.
Why coffee beans?
There is no place in the Kingdom better suited for cultivating coffee than Jazan — and it’s not all about the environment (though it is ideal). Local expertise in growing this strategic product is significantly high in the region.
In fact, the coffee you were sipping on this morning could be a Saudi product — about a 2.5% chance. Still, the Kingdom imports 97.5% of its annual coffee consumption. Therefore, supporting coffee farmers in Jazan, which produces only 400 out of the 81,000 tons of coffee consumed by citizens and residents of the Kingdom, will create a significant number of new jobs and have a positive economic impact on the local community.
Accordingly, Aramco has encouraged farmers and provided them with the required training and financial support to improve this dynamic field and increase the region’s share in the Saudi coffee market.
What have we done for farmers?
Before starting any citizenship program in the Kingdom, Aramco evaluates the capabilities within local communities and cooperates with the concerned agencies in the region to achieve the best results. We have long been a sponsor of initiatives that make a difference in people’s lives, provided that the beneficiaries are willing to develop themselves and continue to improve their skills.
Since the program started in 2016, more than 1,000 farmers have received our support, and of those, 750 received full support. This includes the reclamation of their lands, installation of new irrigation systems, and providing proper training for farmers.
The project also looks to provide the required training and tools for agriculture and irrigation to enable farmers to increase coffee production and have a sustainable source of income.
In 2019, Aramco expanded the scope of the program to cover a number of governates in Jazan, striving to plant 133,500 trees and support 750 farmers in Jazan Province by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
As it continues its efforts to achieve a more sustainable and profitable agricultural environment in Jazan, the company is studying all the necessary steps to market the farmers’ products and help them improve their agricultural capabilities.
— The Arabian Sun: September 30, 2020 | Vol. LXXV, No. 38