Through scientific experiments in Cloud seeding, the Kingdom enhances food security by combating “desertification” from space 
May 24, 2023

The Kingdom’s second journey into space represents a national and global achievement towards serving humanity in various fields. This is accomplished through conducting 14 scientific and practical experiments, including the “Cloud seeding” experiment. Cloud seeding is known as a technology used to increase the quantity and quality of rain for specific types of clouds, exploiting their characteristics and stimulating and accelerating the process of rainfall in predetermined areas. Space astronauts, Ahmad Al-Qarni and Rayanah Barnawi, will work on developing the current technology with the aim of increasing its efficiency from 30% to over 50%. The pioneering results of these experiments will contribute to combating desertification and developing the agricultural sector.  

The technology of Cloud seeding contributes to obtaining renewable water resources to address one of the major challenges to food security, which is “desertification.” Desertification refers to the deterioration of land in arid, semi-arid, and semi-humid regions due to human activities and climate changes. As desert areas expand and spread, the opportunities for achieving independent food security diminish. Therefore, international efforts and organizations continue to seek solutions to mitigate the negative impacts of desertification, which also affect social and economic aspects.  

In 2020, the Cabinet approved the “Cloud Seeding Program in the Kingdom” with the aim of increasing the current precipitation rate, which does not exceed 100 mm annually. This decision was made due to the Kingdom being one of the driest countries, lacking permanent water bodies such as rivers and lakes. Cloud seeding, as part of the synthetic rain program, is considered a promising approach to maintaining water balance, as it is a safe and flexible technology. The Kingdom initiated its synthetic rain experiments in 2004 in the Asir region, followed by the regions of Riyadh, Al-Qassim, and Hail in 2006. In 2009, a synthetic rain project was implemented using 10 specialized aircraft with the participation of a select group of Saudi scientists.   

In this context, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture is working towards achieving a sustainable environment, food security, and sustainable water resources that align with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. This includes protecting the natural environment through promoting sustainable agricultural practices, preserving water balance, diversifying water sources, restoring biodiversity, and addressing desertification by protecting local plants that provide food and habitat for wildlife. 

The strategy of SALIC aims to contribute to achieving the national targets for food security in strategic commodities by expanding and diversifying foreign investments in countries with competitive advantages. It also aims to empower the local food sector to achieve sustainable food security.