Long-Term Strategy of food production

It is apparently during the current month of Ramadan, that most fasting Moslem people put on weight through the extraordinary self-indulgence in food and beverages.

Beside that, it is believed, from several reports on the issue, that countries in the Middle East waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food worth more than a trillion dollars every year.  The GCC’s Authorities are only too aware of the enormous demand of food as well as its ensuing waste.

A quarter of this waste can cover the needs of poor people and / or countries as populations become larger and arable land scarcer.

The GCC’s population of more than 49 million made of nationals but mainly of expatriates workers is generally growing at a rate of 3.9 per cent a year, with agriculture contributing only 1.4 per cent to the Gulf’s total GDP.

“Agricultural imports account for 84 per cent, with only 16 per cent of exports.  We have made projections about the productivity for each sector in the GCC and the region would have to invest US$48 billion to cover the food value gap,” said Al Arabi Hamdi, adviser to the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development.

It would also need three million hectares of arable land to cover the gap in cereals, sugar, oils and feed as well as 300,000 more cows, 400,000 goats and 800,000 poultry.

“We projected available areas in Arab countries that could be used by the GCC to cover this gap,” Mr Hamdi said. “They include Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria, and we have seen that there are arable areas that are not used but can be used to bridge the gap for the GCC.”

The authority recommended the creation of a regional think-tank incorporating its experts, the Gulf Chambers of Commerce and the GCC’s Secretary General.

“The focus of the body will be to take steps towards reducing the huge food gap in Arab countries and we call upon the private sector to bridge this in the GCC,” Mr Hamdi said.