Gulf's Bid for Food Sufficiency

In what some see as the opposite of globalization, many Gulf countries have been investing in foreign farmland, mainly in fertile Africa, to serve as their bread basket.

What's the Latest Development?

According to the World Bank, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates import some 90% of the food they need to feed their 40 million-strong population. This high dependence on imports makes them highly dependent on the world food market and vulnerable to any form of disruption in food imports. They have thus been buying up fertile land in Africa in a bid to improve their food security.

What's the Big Idea?

Qatar recently announced it is going to boost its own food security by also using the latest agricultural technology to turn 45,000 hectares of its own land into farms. “This is the opposite of globalization,” said Pedro Berliner of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. “In a global world everyone provides their best product and they are traded around the world so you have what you need. This is...the other way around. It would seem that they do not want to be affected by globalization.”

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