(Updates with comment from Elkhereiji in second paragraph.)
Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest barley importer, plans to buy 1.9 million metric tons of wheat in 2011, said Waheed A. Elkhereiji, director general of the Grain Silos & Flour Mills Organization.
The kingdom “will import slightly more next year,” he told reporters at a Russian grains conference in Sharm el-Sheikh today. “Consumption is increasing due to the increase in population and due to the decrease of procurement from the interior market.”
Saudi Arabia decided in 2008 to gradually phase out all water-intensive crops including wheat by 2016, after halting subsidies to grow barley in 2003 to save water, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. Domestic wheat production is estimated to have dropped 13 percent to 1.1 million tons this year following adoption of the 2008 decree on crops, the Rome-based FAO has said.
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