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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Dec 30, 2009

The Arab World Is Not Food Self-Sufficient.

In a previous post, a reference was made that only 1/3 of land in the Arab world is suitable for agricultural cultivation, and that the rest is barren desert. Even that portion under cultivation depends on rainfall. It is also interesting to notice that the global warming and weather changes have already impacted the Middle East and the African continent more than other regions. The Arab world is experiencing less rain and longer drought durations. In addition, most of the Arab states have been classified at the water poverty level. The Arab world as a whole is not food self-sufficient. According to the Arab Agricultural Development Organization, Arab states imported over 75 million tons of food during 2008. The total cost of imported food was $20 billion (Al-Jazeera.net, Nov. 17, 2009).

Despite the costly importation of food, "FAO-UN" noted that there are more than 40 million people in the Arab world who do not get enough food to eat on a daily basis. In addition to this, more than 100 million people are living below the poverty index level (Al-Jazeera.net, Nov. 17, 2009). The degree of poverty varies from state to state in the Arab world. The poverty scale is reflected when we compare the "GNI" per capita, which varies from $38,420 per person per capita in Kuwait, versus $840 per person per capita in Mauritania (World Bank, 2008). The "GNI" per capita of most states with large population sizes tends to be below $2,500 per person per year. Those with higher "GNI" income per capita are the oil producing states in the gulf area with smaller populations.

There are several reasons that kept agricultural productivity low in the Arab world. These are as follows:
1)The absence of long range strategy for agricultural development. The ex-Egyptian agricultural minister Ahmad al-Laithi stated in a public lecture that there is no agricultural planning strategy for the Egyptian agricultural sector (almasry-alyoum, Nov. 26, 2009). Several oil-producing states recently began to look to buy or lease lands in foreign countries to cultivate and ship the produce to their own states (more on this in the next post).
2) No significant fund has been diverted for agricultural scientific research to enhance and increase agricultural productivity. The use of modern technology in cultivation hardly exists, especially in agricultural irrigation, since the availability of water is decreasing. Farmers in general are still following the traditional way of cultivation.

The increasing gap between the rich and poor people, corruption of governments, and foreign interference are among the factors that hinder agricultural development in the Arab world.

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