Saudi Cabinet reiterates efforts to end Israeli aggression against Palestinians

RIYADH: Almond farming is beginning to revive along the scenic route between Taif and Baha, marking the rebirth of a practice deeply rooted in the culture of this part of Saudi Arabia.

Fahd Al-Zahrani, director of the local branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said almond trees were once again a common sight in the area.

“Almond cultivation has spread to several areas including Baha, Baljurashi, Al-Mandaq, Bani Hassan and Al-Qura,” he said.

The expert says there is a growing demand for almond-based products, including butter, sweets and ice cream. (SPA)

Almond trees, a member of the Rosaceae family, are grown mainly on agricultural terraces in the Sarawat Mountains, he added. They cover about 67 hectares there and are considered an alternative crop in the region.

“The average yield is 1 ton of green fruit from 3.6 hectares,” Al-Zahrani told the Saudi Press Agency. He said the ministry is offering investment opportunities in two “almond cities” covering more than 1.5 million square meters and is working to improve farmers’ skills through workshops.

It supports the development and sustainability of tree farms through initiatives such as the Organic Farming Program and Saudi Reef, also known as the Rural Sustainability in Agriculture Program, which supports environmental sustainability and agricultural diversification by supporting the development of rural communities and activities aimed at ensuring food security.


Almonds hold a special place in Saudi society, where offering them to guests is seen as an expression of generosity and great respect for newcomers.

Fawaz Al-Thaqafi, a third-generation almond farmer who recently attended My Country’s Grains and Almond Festival in Al-Mandaq, shared his insights into this emerging industry.

“Our centuries-old almond trees produce the highest quality almonds,” SPA said.

The growing process, while rewarding, is not without its challenges, he added. Farmers struggle with pests such as the almond fly, which can kill the tree’s fruit, and threats from local wildlife, particularly monkeys.

The trees require constant care and attention throughout the almond tree’s life cycle, from white blossoms in February to ripe nuts in July. In July, the almonds are firm and in a stage known as “labab,” during which people often eat the fruit before it is fully ripe, at which point it is called “qadim.”

Al-Thaqafi spoke of his family’s three-generation tradition of almond farming and the depth of knowledge passed down over the years. He said every aspect of almond farming, from planting to harvesting, is a lifelong learning process, and described the intricate process of cracking almond shells, known locally as “ghadarif,” a time-consuming task that requires patience and constant effort.

A variety of almonds are grown in the region, he added, including sweet, bitter and other mountain varieties. Of particular interest is the rare Al-Thaqafi variety, called the “T-type.” It is grown in specific conditions, he said, resulting in a distinctive flavor profile and higher quality.

His orchard has more than 400 trees, including 300 almonds. He plans to plant more than 1,000 trees by 2028, given the growing demand for almond-based products, including butter, sweets and ice cream, among local and international consumers.

Nadia Said Al-Zahrani, a food and nutrition specialist at Al-Baha University, praised local farmers for their efforts to diversify their production of almond-based products by switching to producing products such as organic almond butter and tahini.

She highlighted the health benefits of almonds, which are rich in monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and essential vitamins such as E and K.

“Almonds are also rich in biologically active compounds such as flavonoids, which contribute to numerous health benefits, including boosting immunity, preventing cancer, bone health, healing wounds, supporting kidney function, and lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels,” Al-Zahrani added.

Each year, the blossoming of almond trees paints a panoramic picture that delights observers, spreading across the mountainsides. A spectacle resembling scattered pearls begins to appear in the last days of winter.

A single almond tree can yield about 200 kilograms of nuts each season. In Baha, the price of a bag of almonds ranges from SR300 to 500 ($80-133), with some varieties fetching even higher prices.

The market follows a predictable seasonal pattern: prices rise at the beginning of the season, fall in the middle, and then rise again as the harvest comes to an end. Almonds from this area are very popular, attracting buyers from all over the Kingdom and beyond.

The almond holds a special place in Saudi culture, often presented as a gesture of hospitality. Offering almonds to guests is seen as an expression of generosity and a symbol of the respected position guests hold in Saudi society.

Baha owes the fertility of its soil to its abundant water resources and its moderate, temperate climate throughout the year. The almond tree, known for its resistance to various climatic conditions and low water requirements, is particularly suitable for Baha because its production season coincides with the rainy season in the mountainous regions at the end of winter.

Leave a Comment