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The future role of agriculture in the Arab region’s food security

Abstract

The 2007–2008 food crisis and subsequent economic recession have severely undermined food security and agricultural sustainability worldwide. Failures in market functioning and trade openness have posed particularly high risks to the import-dependent countries in the Arab region. Many of the global causes of the price spikes are still in place, creating uncertainty about food availability and access in the future. Especially in the Arab region, these uncertainties are compounded by water scarcity. A long-term outlook is essential for formulating appropriate policy and investment strategies in order to ensure future food security for the region. After a brief discussion of trends in agricultural growth and investment, this paper presents projections by the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) on agriculture production, trade, demand, prices, and food security up to 2025 and 2050. Simulations are used to compare a baseline scenario (with climate change) with two scenarios incorporating increased investment and supportive policies. The results highlight the key role of agricultural research, as well as expanded irrigation, improved natural resource management, and enhanced market efficiency, in improving food security. Four priority areas are proposed: investments in agricultural research and development, rural infrastructure, and rural institutions; more open regional and international trade to facilitate commodity flows and alleviate supply shortages; pro-poor food and nutrition interventions; and cross-cutting issues of policy coherence, gender dimensions, inclusion of traditional populations, and coordination mechanisms to deal with climate change and ecosystem challenges.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For the purpose of this analysis, Arab countries include all members of the League of Arab States—Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen—except Comoros.

  2. 2.

    The GHI is a combined measure of three equally weighted components: percentage of undernourished people in the population, prevalence of underweight children under the age of five, and the under-five mortality rate. The 2009 GHI is based on data until 2007.

  3. 3.

    Food availability is modeled endogenously while other factors are exogenously determined from various data sources, including the World Health Organization’s Global Database on Child Growth Malnutrition, the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination—Subcommittee on Nutrition, the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, the FAOSTAT database, and the UNESCOSTAT database.

  4. 4.

    Geographical representation in the Arab region in the IMPACT model is at the country level, except for the Arabian Peninsula (modeled as a single entity) and Comoros (part of an aggregate “rest of the world”).

  5. 5.

    Primarily FAOSTAT (http://faostat.fao.org/).

  6. 6.

    “Developed” and “developing” countries in this scenario analysis are based on the classification developed by the World Bank (2009a) of high- and low-income countries except for island nations that are aggregated into a rest of the world group. In the representation of the Arab region in IMPACT, the Arabian Peninsula is considered “developed” and the remainder of the region is “developing”.

  7. 7.

    When growth rates are negative, the decline is slowed by the factor noted (i.e., becomes less negative); if there is no growth, there will, likewise, be no effect of these scenarios.

  8. 8.

    This issue is discussed elsewhere in this volume; see papers by Hallam, Cotula et al., Tanyeri-Abur & Elamin, and Chaaban et al.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Claudia Ringler, Mandy Ewing, Amanda Palazzo, Tingju Zhu, Gerald C. Nelson, Jawoo Koo, Richard Robertson, Siwa Msangi, and Miroslav Batka who made critical contributions to recent updates of the IMPACT model.

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Correspondence to Timothy B. Sulser.

Appendix

Appendix

Fig. 8
figure8

Regions and water basins of the Arab region covered by the IMPACT model. Note: Map boundaries are not authoritative. 1 Algeria-North African Coast, 2 Algeria-Sahara, 3 Arabian Peninsula, 4 Djibouti, 5 Egypt-Eastern Mediterranean, 6 Egypt-North African Coast, 7 Egypt-Nile, 8 Egypt-Sahara, 9 Iraq-Arab Peninsula, 10 Iraq-Tigris Euphrates, 11 Jordan-Eastern Mediterranean, 12 Lebanon-Eastern Mediterranean, 13 Libya-North African Coast, 14 Libya-Sahara, 15 Mauritania-Northwest Africa, 16 Mauritania-Sahara, 17 Mauritania-Senegal, 18 Morocco-Northwest Africa, 19 Morocco-Sahara, 20 Somalia-Horn of Africa, 21 Sudan-Nile, 22 Sudan-Sahara, 23 Syria-Eastern Mediterranean, 24 Syria-Tigris Euphrates, 25 Tunisia-North African Coast

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Sulser, T.B., Nestorova, B., Rosegrant, M.W. et al. The future role of agriculture in the Arab region’s food security. Food Sec. 3, 23–48 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-010-0100-5

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Keywords

  • Food price crisis
  • IMPACT simulation model
  • Market functioning
  • Trade openness
  • Food security