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Middle East Meeting Addresses Global Food Security

At a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council to address global food security, ministers “pledged to a set of recommendations meant to improve co-operation and develop policies that could cope with a sudden interruption of food supplies” and vowed to “improve co-operation with international bodies such as the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on food security matters,” The National reports (Detrie, 11/24).

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, who spoke at the gathering said, “The food price and economic crises have had a severe impact on millions of people in all parts of the world,” U.N. News Center reports. According to the news service, “the number of hungry and malnourished people in the Near East and North Africa is currently estimated at 37 million, nearly 10 percent of the region’s population.”

Diouf also noted “that the rapid increase in hunger and malnourishment since the food crisis of 2008 reveals the inadequacy of the present global food system and the urgent need for structural changes,” according to the news service (11/23).

A Reuters/ArabianBusiness.com story looks at United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to buy or lease land in other countries to provide food for their populations.

UAE’s Environment and Water Minister Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd told Reuters: “It’s a top priority for us right now to secure food supplies in the UAE and we are looking at both investing abroad and also new technology which can help us increase our production locally.” Diouf said, “Hopefully by the end of next year we will have approved international guidelines by which for the leasing of farmland so we can have a win-win situation” (11/23).

According to The National, the Gulf region imports up to 90% of its food (11/24).

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