Welcome to the Middle East Today

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

Sudan: The Bread Basket.

Sudan is an Arab country with a population of nearly 43 million people. It is estimated as among the poorest countries in the Arab world, with "GNI" of $1,130 per person per year. Sudan's agricultural land has been estimated at 200 million Feddan (one Feddan equals 4,200 square meters). Only 40 million Feddan are under traditional methods of cultivation. Also, Sudan relies on the import of foods (Al-Jazeera.net, Dec. 1, 2009). Agricultural experts claim that all of the 200 million Feddan can be cultivated. The soil is rich, water from the Nile and rainfall are adequate, and the climate is more than warm enough for agricultural cultivation. These are important natural ingredients needed for agricultural cultivation. Sudan lacks the know how of modern agricultural cultivation. The lack of availability of financial resources for investments in the agricultural sector of the economy as well as needed financial help to build the infrastructure (roads, bridges and railroads)hinder agricultural development.

During the past few decades, Sudan was known as the potential future Bread Basket of the Arab world. Due to internal political conflicts and governmental corruption in the Arab world, no serious discussion took place regarding Arab investments in the agricultural sector of Sudan. 34 years ago, FAO of the U.N. ranked Sudan, Canada, and Australia as the future Bread Basket of the world (The Economist, May 23, 2009).

During the past few years (2007-2009), food insecurity and world market price turmoil impacted the agricultural sectors worldwide, and created fears in countries that rely on food imports.

Some of the major factors which directly and indirectly created the turmoil and panic are attributed to the followings: the doubling of oil prices in 2008, which was caused by Wall Street gamblers, especially those who were in the commodity sector of the market. Wall Street manipulation created speculation that some agricultural products could be diverted to the production of biofuel, and this will create food shortage. Other factors which contributed to increasing food prices are the decline in agricultural productivity due to global warming and weather changes in certain regions such as the Middle East and Africa.Furthermore, there is less rain and longer drought durations.

Sudan was the best alternative for most Arab states to buy, lease and/or invest in the agricultural sector. The oil-producing Arab countries began to invest in Sudan. A Sudanese official says his country will set aside roughly one-fifth of the cultivated land of Sudan for Arab governments. Sudan, is the "Bread Basket of the Arab world".

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal for 400,000 hectares, Egypt has secured a similar deal to grow wheat. Qatar's government set up a joint venture to invest in Sudan, and Kuwait signed a "giant" strategic partnership with Sudan for the same purpose (The Economist, May 23, 2009).

The Arab states are not the only governments who moved to invest in Sudan, but also other foreign states are moving into Sudan for the same purpose: food security.

No comments:

Post a Comment