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Food Security is the seventh in the series of annual reports on the state of Arab environment, produced by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED). The report highlights the need for more efficient management of the agriculture and water sectors, in view of enhancing the prospects of food security.
This report comes after Arab Environment - Future Challenges (2008), Impact of Climate Change on Arab Countries (2009), Water - Sustainable Management of a Scarce Resource (2010), Green Economy in a Changing Arab World (2011), Survival Options- Ecological Footprint in Arab Countries (2012), and Sustainable Energy (2013).
Food security is of great concern to Arab countries. They have been pursuing a target of higher food self-sufficiency rate, but achieving this goal remained beyond reach. While they have limited cultivable land and scarce water resources, they did not use their agricultural endowments in an effective and efficient manner. Lack of appropriate agricultural policies and practices led to diminishing the bio-capacity of the resources to regenerate their services and threatened agricultural sustainability.
The advent of the food crisis in recent years and the unprecedented spike in food prices, coupled with export restrictions imposed by some food producing countries, reignited the call for ensuring reliable food sources for food import dependent countries like the Arab countries. The question is to what extent can the available agricultural resources at country and regional levels meet demand for food in the Arab world? What are the prospects for food self-sufficiency, taking into consideration the growing population and the impact of climate change on land and water resources? And what other options do the Arab countries have to ensure food security?
The result of collaborative work, this AFED report has been produced by a group of leading experts, in cooperation with regional and international organizations, universities and research centers. Over 200 researchers and specialists contributed to the work. Various consultation meetings were held to discuss the rafts, culminating in a regional meeting hosted by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), where 40 experts from 14 countries and 21 institutions reviewed the drafts with the authors.
A novel feature of the report are the maps showing water and land resources in the Arab region, produced in cooperation with the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) based on the most recent data. Beyond identifying the availability of resources per country, they point out obvious routes of regional cooperation, based on the variation in natural endowment.
AFED hopes that its report on Food Security will help Arab countries adopt the right policies and commit to long-term investments, allowing them to secure a sustainable supply of food to meet ever-growing needs.