Growing wheat in Saudi Arabia is about as sustainable as growing rice in California (they actually do grow rice in water-short Southern California, subsidized by taxpayer funded projects). Even though wheat is of Middle Eastern origin, it makes no sense to grow it in the desert when the practice depletes groundwater needed for drinking.
For the average Saudi, awareness of climate change issues is likely to remain low, but obviously the government elite - long opposed to the Kyoto Treaty or anything like it - has an opportunity to think about a scenario where the Kingdom's wheat suppliers lose yield to a changing climate. So, this sounds like a high risk policy shift.
Saudi Arabia is abandoning a 30-year program to grow wheat that achieved self-sufficiency but depleted the desert kingdom's scarce water supplies. The government will start reducing purchases of wheat from local farmers by 12.5 percent per year from this year, officials from the agriculture and finance ministries said on Tuesday. The kingdom aims to rely entirely on imports by 2016. "The reason is water resources," said one official, who did not want to be identified.
So, in something less than a decade, North American farmers may be able to swap the bushel for the barrel, so to speak.
Via::Middle East Online, "Saudi scraps wheat growing to save water" Image credit::Middle East Online.