Monday, March 14, 2011

Arab world faces more food crises

Seed Daily via UPI:The wave of political upheaval engulfing the Arab world was unleashed in large part because of high food prices in countries that depend on imports to feed burgeoning populations. But as imports swell, new crises are on their way.v"For decades the agricultural policy of the Middle East and North Africa has been extremely simple: hydrocarbon exports pay for carbohydrate imports," observed commodities expert Javier Blas of the Financial Times.

"As social and political unrest sweeps the region, the policy has two implications for commodities markets: countries will try everything to maintain high oil prices and will hoard food supplies, which will push agricultural costs higher," Blas wrote. "This bargain -- providing the world with oil and gas in return for cereals -- is clear in a country such as Libya, which is one of the world's largest wheat importers per capita, as it is in Algeria and Saudi Arabia."

This dependence on imported food isn't likely to change anytime soon, analysts say. The regional states have little arable land and even less water and worsening climate change will make their situation even more precarious….

A small farm near the Libyan village of El Mallaha. Shot by Maher A. A. Abdussalam, who has generously released the image into the public domain

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