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Characteristics of the food security strategies in the Arab world


Book: The political economy of food sovereignty in the Arab countries
Author: Jane Harrigan
Publisher: The World of Knowledge Kuwait, Issue 465, October 2018,

The Tunisian writer and explorer continues Tawfiq Al-MadaniIn the second part of his book "The Political Economy of Food Supremacy in the Arab States" by his friend Jean Harrigan, he shed light on the consequences of the global food crisis on the Arab world and the ways to correct it.

Impact of population growth on food security

Population policy is another area of ​​policy that plays a key role in food security in the region in the future. The region is one of the highest rates of population growth over the past few decades, with mortality declining and birth rates declining much lower, slowly. It leads to a demographic change in which young people are rapidly growing. If employment opportunities are found for these economically active young people, this is a significant demographic advantage, reflected in a low dependency ratio, increasing the economically active population and increasing savings and investment. This demographic gift turns into a curse associated with the high unemployment rates. Young people, social disorders and more mouths that need food.

Food security is closely linked to the overall development strategy of the Arab countries.

"In spite of this potential demographic gift, the population of the Arab region will increase from 390 million to 655 million by 2050, and efforts to reduce this population growth will have to be increased." The birth rate is an integral part of the food strategy security in the region, and Iran offers useful lessons in this regard to countries that still have high fertility rates, such as Yemen, Jordan, and Syria.Education, especially the education of women, should be taught it also that in synergies um strong food security in the Arab region as there is a strong link between gender inequality and hunger while improving the health and nutrition of women, it can have two positive effects (p. 299 of his book).

Considering that food security is closely linked to the overall development strategy of the Arab countries, achieving food security requires a multilateral approach. Although local agriculture and food production play an important role in achieving food security, given the limited agricultural potential of the region, it is important to ensure economic and trade diversification at national and national level in order to diversify the livelihood and accessibility to individual food markets. This is a comprehensive growth for the poor, creating employment opportunities and livelihood opportunities for all members of society.

Since the fertile crescent moon and the Maghreb region were the bread basket of the Roman Empire, the Arab countries increasingly relied on food imports.

Allowing people to take advantage of these opportunities requires better education and health, greater gender equality, investment in human capital and physical infrastructure, redistribution of assets and a favorable environment for business. Rural livelihoods will require instead of just farming to improve ownership and ownership systems.

Since the fertile crescent moon and the Maghreb region were the bread basket of the Roman Empire, the Arab countries increasingly relied on food imports, and after World War I, the geopolitics of food, followed by Arab nationalism, was more and more aware of the desire for greater regional food self-sufficiency. Population growth, total oil income growth and declining agricultural productivity have led to an increase in the food gap in the 1970s. This food gap, coupled with the global food crisis of the early 1970s and the use of US food as a geopolitical weapon, has led many Arab leaders to adopt policies to promote higher levels of food production in the quest for self-sufficiency.

Neoliberalism: food security based on trade in the 1980s and 1990s

Since the mid-1980s, agricultural policy in the Arab region, especially in oil-producing countries, has been affected by the new liberalism of the Washington Consensus, as international donors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic reforms in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, to abolish government interventions in the agricultural sector and move towards a trade-based approach to food security. However, despite some reforms, the pace and extent of agricultural sector reform in most Arab countries remain slow and many continue to protect their food sub-sectors.

According to international expert Jane Harrigan, Arab countries have revised food security strategies once again after the global food crises of 2007, 2010, 2010 and Arab Spring, and Arab governments have become more prone to rely on food imports. "Food sovereignty" is becoming a winning currency, including a food security strategy that moves away from the economic dictates of market forces and includes political considerations at national and geopolitical levels, giving national states greater control over food supplies. This new approach is key to renewing the focus on local food production and the acquisition of land in other host countries to meet food needs directly (page 97 authors).

Arab countries reassess food security strategies once again after the two global food crises in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and the events of the Arab Spring.

In the future, it seems imperative that for most countries in the region, food security or food sovereignty will require a multifaceted and comprehensive approach.

Food sovereignty through the acquisition of fertile agricultural land

Several factors have contributed to the wave of acquisition of fertile farmland in the 21st century, including:

The new international trade agreements focus on the interests of globalized capital (World Trade Organization WTO, NAFTA, etc.).

Open the southern countries of the world for foreign direct investment.

World-class financiers and speculative speculation gain strength in wealthy countries.

Raising food prices such as droughts and floods, reducing food produced in a region, especially those countries that have to import large quantities of food The global food crisis in 2008 and then led to fear of food-importing countries .

American and European desire to acquire so-called "green" biofuels as an alternative to conventional liquefied petroleum fuels, reviving the corn (for ethanol production), soybean and palm oil (for biodiesel production).

Exhaustion of aquifers in the layers of important agricultural areas by pumping water at a speed higher than that compensated by the rain.

These factors, coupled with the volatility of farms in many countries and the spread of corruption, have led to a rapid and substantial movement of foreign capital to control large lands, especially in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, or through direct purchase; through long-term rent. In addition, in some countries like Colombia and Brazil, local capital is investing heavily in land purchase and the development of large-scale agricultural projects.

After 2007, food sovereignty in the Arab region

Many Arab states have revised their food security strategies as a result of the global food crisis that began in 2007, adopting the food sovereignty approach, moving away from the commercial approach to a new focus on domestic production and land acquisition abroad. The global crisis has again shown the flaws of a trade-based approach, with world-wide grain markets dominated by a small number of large exporting countries, and very large exporters are restricting exports.

"In connection with the Arab Spring, when the new regimes introduced power in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, there was an increasing desire to reduce potential deficits," says international expert Jean Harrigan. "The age of globalization has also led to a commercial focus on global food trade. Indeed, 75% of the world trade in cereals and meat is currently being carried out by four major multinational companies, the Big Four, ABCD ARCHERS MIDLAND, BANGE, CARGILL and DREYFUS. they control Global Food Trade, these companies also effectively control mother Arab food "(page 78 of the book).

When the new regimes introduced power in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, there was an increasing desire to reduce potential shortcomings

Food security strategies have evolved in the Arab world since the early 1970s, with great dependence on imports and growing food shortages, followed by food self-sufficiency in the 1970s and 1980s, and an increase in food security. trade-based strategies from the mid-1980s onwards are often guided by the recommendations of the organizations Finally, the trend towards food sovereignty, with increased domestic production and land acquisition outside the country following the global food crisis in 2007-2008

The UAE government's actions are a model for a new approach to food security, focusing on local production and land use abroad, encouraging UAE citizens to invest in local agriculture, exploring diversification and innovation opportunities and supporting UAE citizens, who invest in farming abroad. Friendly countries with strong agricultural potential.

The National Food Security Program of Qatar, launched in November 2009, aims to increase local food production and access to land abroad

Qatar offers another example of the new strategy for telecommunication sovereignty: The National Food Security Program of Qatar, launched in November 2009, aims to increase local food production and access to land abroad to receive direct food Chapter VI provides a detailed analysis of the participation of the Arab countries. When acquiring land abroad, Chapter VII gives an assessment of the new Arab initiatives for greater local food production.

The case of Saudi Arabia to develop these strategies is now an example of the growing food gap in the 1970s and the self-sufficiency strategy of the 1970s and 1980s. The Kingdom is also at the forefront of the latest land acquisition programs to meet its food needs after the global food crisis of 2007-2008 and as such offers a unique case study.

According to international expert Jane Harrigan, Saudi Arabia embodies "the extreme case of water shortages in the Arab region." The Kingdom occupies 80% of the Arabian Peninsula, the second largest Arab country in area since Algeria has no lakes or rivers, with very low rainfall in most parts of the country with average annual rainfall of 106.5 millimeters, only 0.6 per cent of the land area is classified as arable land, so agriculture is almost entirely dependent on irrigation water.

Saudi Arabia embodies "the extreme case of water shortages in the Arab region

The area of ​​arable land before the discovery of oil is less than 350 thousand hectares, and in 1961 the population is only 4.2 million. Cattle-breeding develops in partnership between sedentary and nomadic communities, and limited arable land and scarcity of pastures mean that Bedouins have raised livestock according to the model of travel (page 79 of the book).

Agriculture and livestock have undergone minor changes until 1970, but the acquisition of land outside the kingdom has been underway since 2007. The Saudi government finally gave the green light to a number of investments in June 2012. By 2013, Saudi investors had agreed or are in the process of 800,000 hectares of land in Africa, accounting for about 70% of Saudi Arabia's global transactions. Africa, especially the Nile Basin countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, are a major target for Saudi investors, as most of the world's non-agricultural land is in Africa.

According to Saudi Arabia's trade and industry ministry, the slow pace of investment in Saudi Arabia abroad is due to a number of operational problems, namely the lack of logistic infrastructure of the hosts such as roads and railways, inadequate facilities and services, Lack of skilled work hand, poor technology of agriculture, non-transparent administrative systems, corruption in civil servants, weak legal systems and in particular lack of transparency in the application of investment laws and.

The Saudi study presents two major strategies that are part of the historic development of the food security approach in the Arab world. The Saudi self-sufficiency campaign, followed by the King Abdullah initiative, outlines extreme versions of the food self-sufficiency strategy and the land acquisition strategy abroad . The recent initiative on food sovereignty, illustrating the potentially high cost of food self-sufficiency in countries with water scarcity and the difficulties of replacing this land ownership strategy in host countries as Ex.

Read also: The causes of the global food crisis and its consequences for the Arab world

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