Journal of Food Security
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Journal of Food Security. 2019, 7(5), 159-169
DOI: 10.12691/jfs-7-5-2
Open AccessArticle

Food Security in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: Challenges and Prospects

Tarek Ben Hassen1, and Hamid El Bilali2

1Department of International Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar

2International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM-Bari), Valenzano (Bari), Italy

Pub. Date: September 15, 2019

Cite this paper:
Tarek Ben Hassen and Hamid El Bilali. Food Security in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: Challenges and Prospects. Journal of Food Security. 2019; 7(5):159-169. doi: 10.12691/jfs-7-5-2

Abstract

Food insecurity concerns are as old as humanity. Food security exists when all population, at all times, has access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. It is built on four pillars, namely food availability, food access, food utilisation, and stability. While it is widely admitted that food security increases with economic development, also rich countries in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, face specific challenges. Therefore, this review paper analyses the state, determinants and perspectives of food security in GCC region. Historically, food security was not an issue for the GCC states. In fact, GCC states are capital rich and have no foreign exchange limitation for food import. Consequently, due to their robust fiscal position resulting in high buying power, these countries, have been less vulnerable to price risk than other food importers; and able to bridge the shortfall in domestic production. As a result, in 2018, the six GCC members have been ranked as the most food secure in the Arab world and among the most food secure countries in the world. However, in the wake of the 2007–2008 global food crisis, food security became an ongoing challenge. The crisis exposed the high dependence of GCC countries on imports, limits of import-based food policies and the need to increase the local production. However, agriculture is limited by several natural conditions, such as scarce water resources and poor soils, and aquifers have been heavily exploited above the average natural recharge. Further, potentially, more critical to GCC food security is availability risk, which arises when an import-dependent country is not able to obtain food, even if it has sufficient funds to purchase it. The paper makes the case for promoting a productive and sustainable agriculture, with high resources use efficiency, to increase food security in the GCC.

Keywords:
food security water security food self-sufficiency sustainable agriculture GCC

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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