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



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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 Global Food Crisis in 2008 was a global economic earthquake, many of the social upheavals that have occurred in the world, whether they start from social, ethnic or linguistic issues, the conflicts that separate human societies vary from country to country. However, many popular uprisings are for obvious reasons.

Along with the wealth brought about by the liberal globalization of the early 1990s, lending is expanding, poverty is marginalized to marginalize peoples and peoples. Due to its direct effect on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, the global food crisis has compounded the social, political or economic disruptions previously observed.

In the spring of 2008, hunger revolutions broke out in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Abyssinia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco and Senegal. The most symbolic confrontation took place in Haiti. In the capital of Port-au-Prince, the occupation of the presidential palace by thousands of protesters demanding food distribution led to the intervention of the army and the "United Nations Force for Haitian Stability".

From 2007 to 2008, average world food prices have doubled, which has led to a deterioration in the standard of living of hundreds of millions of people who mostly devote their incomes to food. According to the World Bank, this price increase is based on two factors: the significant increase in oil and gas prices widely used in agricultural activities and the production of chemical fertilizers and, on the other hand, the large share of biofuels instead of food production.

book "Political Economy of Food Sovereignty in Arab States" Professor of Political Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, who holds several positions at the University of Manchester and works as an economic expert in some international organizations such as the FAO and the African Development Bank, Jane Harrigan, provides us with an in-depth analysis of nutrition Issues In Arab countries the use of instruments of political economy for the history of food security in the region and highlights the geopolitical relations of food in the Arab regat on.

Wallpaper of the book

"Three recent phenomena: the global food crisis in 2007-2008, the Arab Spring 2010-2011 and the growing acquisition of foreign land, sometimes called land acquisition," says economist Jane Harrigan. Where wealthy countries suffering from malnutrition find a direct source of nutritional needs by acquiring a vast farmland. "The book considers that these three phenomena are closely related and are part of a new political economy for food security."

The two years 2007-2008 triggered a critical global shock in food prices and the crisis became part of a triple crisis: food, fuel and financial crises.

"In the Arab region, where Arab countries have worked to develop a new approach to food security, which we call" sovereignty of macro food, "the expert adds, as Zureyk notes (2012), nutrition policy and its relationship with power being of great importance to the Arab region but still under investigation, and this book hopes to help overcome this gap by analyzing the political economy of food security and food sovereignty in the Arab world "(p. 9 -10 of the book).

In 2007 and 2008 there was a critical global shock in food prices and the crisis became part of the tripartite crisis: food, fuel and financial crises. Financial food prices rose in 2007 and the first half of 2008. The FAO Food Price Index rose to nearly 50% between 2007 and 2008. Wheat prices have risen globally from March 2007 to March 2008 average 130%, while for the US consumer price index, rice prices have risen almost threefold.

Food, energy and commodity prices fell at the end of 2008 due to the weak global economy and the start of the global financial crisis. However, the second food price crisis has hit the world in 2010-2011. Food prices have risen again in June 2010. International prices for maize and wheat.

Although the levels of cereal production and stocks – especially in developing countries – were higher in the 2010-2011 period than in the 2007-08 crisis period, most of the structural factors underlying the the previous crisis, remain. In addition to rising food prices, the food price fluctuation problem since 2007 has also taken the form of a sharp downturn and rise.

In its analysis of the global food crisis, expert Jane Harrigan says there is a mix of supply-side factors in the food crisis: demand factors include increased food demand, dietary changes in countries such as China and India, biofuel demand While factors of supply include weak global food markets (a small part of the marketed production), declining growth rates in crop yields, low stock levels, climate turmoil and the effects of the change Climate Change, Prohibition p Z Export for Top Exporters "(page 11 of the book).

Arab Spring and a new food policy

There is a dialectic between the global financial crisis and its consequences for rising food prices, especially wheat and rice, and the outbreak of Arab spring events in many Arab countries where Arab countries are among the most food-dependent countries in the world. global. Despite attempts by Arab governments to reduce the rising costs of imported food, they have failed to prevent imports of price inflation. Food prices have risen to varying degrees, and government spending has also risen to ensure food support and mitigation. This has led to the creation of economic and social hardship in many countries in the region, especially in resource-poor Arab countries, with the trade and financial deficit rising, inflation rising, poverty and food problems emerging. On food.

There is a dialectical link between the global financial crisis and its consequences in terms of rising food prices, especially wheat and rice, and the outbreak of Arab spring events.

"Rising food prices are an important catalyst in Arab Spring events," said Jane Harrigan, an international economic expert. "The Arab Spring is a media term referring to the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests (violence and non-violence), riots and wars (2), Libya and Yemen, while civilian uprisings broke out in Syria, and major protests broke out in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan. In Mauritania there were small protests in Djibouti and Western Sahara, and they described sectarian clashes in Lebanon as a follow-up to the violence of the Syrian uprising, and hence the Arab Spring Regional (page 17 of the book).

Although the Arab Spring was primarily a political movement to get rid of repressive and undemocratic regimes, it had important social and economic fundamentals in the form of food price inflation, high levels of unemployment and increased inequalities. The impact of the global food crisis on the Arab world was examined by the international expert in chapters 4 and 5 of the book.

Towards a regional strategy for Arab food security

The concept of food security is a multidimensional concept, the main argument of this book is that as such it can not be viewed only from an economic point of view. It can not be achieved with just one policy or strategy. Achieving food security is inextricably linked to the overall development strategy of the Arab countries as well as to their social, economic and political structures. As can be seen from the analysis of geopolitical factors, as well as from the events of the Arab Spring. Political food economy is a critical dimension in food security.

International expert Jean Harrigan suggested that one of the reasons food plays a role in the Arab Spring is that many Arab countries, despite having registered healthy economic growth rates, have not provided inclusive growth for the benefit of the poor. failures.

Arab countries are often seen as one of the world's most precarious regions. This view is based on the fact that the Arab region is the world's largest food deficit, as shown by cereal imports as part of consumption. Most Arab countries import between 25 and 50 percent of their nutritional needs, with about 35 percent of the daily calories in the region coming from wheat alone. Imports of cereals in the region range from 40 to 50% and in some countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine to 70%. The largest share of imports of products in the region is imported by food, which represents between 11 and 34% of the total goods imported from the Arab countries, with the regional food import bill accounting for about 5% of GDP.

One of the reasons food plays a role in the Arab Spring is that many Arab countries, despite having registered healthy economic growth rates, have not provided full growth for the benefit of the poor.

"Arab countries are the largest importer of grain due to import dependence In 2010, net cereal imports to the Arab world amounted to 66 million tonnes, compared with 63 million in Asia (including China) and 53 million below, "said international expert Jean Harrigan. China (and 26 million in Sub-Saharan Africa) are available in FAO statistics, and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, UAE, Oman and Bahrain are among the top 20 grain importers in 2010 cultures per capita in the world, Syria is the only Arab country Made a surplus of grain to some extent over the last forty years "(page 34 of the book).

The large food shortage in the Arab region revealed by the rapid rise in food imports over the past 40 years is due to a combination of supply and demand factors. From the point of view of demand, the wrath lies in the growth of the population. The Arab countries have experienced some of the fastest rates of population growth in the world over the last five decades.

"The United Arab Emirates had the largest population growth in the world between 1961 and 2002 (an increase of 2897%), while Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were among the ten most densely populated countries in the world. the Middle East and North Africa region has tripled, rising from 100 million to over 300 million, and cereal imports have increased from 70 million to 96 million tonnes between 1980 and 2002 between Lebanon and Lebanon 1.7% One hundred and one high "(page 34 of the book).

Reducing poverty

Reducing poverty and income security are key food security requirements. Rapid economic growth in the Arab world in the first decade of the 21st century did not turn into poverty reduction for three reasons: unemployment continues to grow (partly as a result of the rapidly growing labor force), employment is largely in the informal sector. Low wages, not the official high wage sector, in the official government sector, reduce real wages), so growth is neither for the poor nor for the inclusive. In addition, much of the growth is centered around oil and government services, with a small structural transformation of the region's economies to manufacturing and export-oriented non-governmental services.

In the MENA region as a whole, the share of output in GDP was low – 13.4% and has declined or remained stable over the last decades.

Although the Arab Spring was primarily a political movement to get rid of the repressive, undemocratic regimes, it had social and economic foundations.

International Expert Gene Harrigan believes that the current turning point in the global food crisis and the Arab Spring provides an opportunity to reassess food security not only in the Arab world, but also in the region's growth and development strategies, State intervention, alternative production, and redirected redistribution to be replaced by economic diversification, a greater role for the private sector and a greater focus on growth for the benefit of the poor. The liberal capable of generating the necessary growth rate of the region "(page 288 of the book).

In order to achieve food security, more demanding requirements are needed to increase the incomes of the poor through their assets, to improve the quality of their assets, to improve their productivity and to redistribute assets within the state economy to the poor . Ensuring decent education for the poor for employment, along with land and capital provision, with a deep focus on rural areas, is a basic requirement for assets. Middle and low income countries in the region, with the exception of Tunisia, have not heavily diversified their export product.

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