FOOD CONCERN: Food security became a major issue in the Arab world since 2008 when food prices soared in the global market. (Getty Images)
Arab countries need to invest $144 billion in agriculture between now and 2030 to meet the demand for food for their growing populations, said an Arab official.
Arab states need to secure half of this amount from private investors to meet the demand of the combined population that is expected to reach 550 million in 2030, said Tareq Al Zadjali, director general of the Arab Organisation for Agriculture Development in an interview in Jeddah this week.
Al-Zadjali said the gap in the Arab world will reach $71 billion in 2030 and without encouraging business to increase investment it can’t be narrowed.
“The private investors need ready infrastructure and Arab countries need to develop that to attract them,” he added. “I don’t expect investors to build electricity stations, grains silos, and ports. This is the responsibility of governments.”
Al-Zadjali said these investments will allow for producing as much as 93 percent of the demand for grains within the Arab world; and 81 percent of the demand for sugar crops and 69 percent of that for oil seeds.
“I’m not expecting us to attract $144 billion in investments but if we attracted 75 percent of that sum then our plan will still work,” he added.
Food security became a major issue in the Arab world since 2008 when food prices soared in the global market. Many exporting nations gave priorities to feed their nations even as Arab countries had the money to buy from abroad, al-Zadjali said.
Since then Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates developed plans to buy farms abroad in Asian and African countries to export food back home. Al-Zadjali wants to see more Arabs investing in agriculture within the Arab worlds’ borders.