Gulf nations need to invest in Africa’s farm sector: expert

August 19th, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Abu Dhabi, Aug 19 (IANS) With prices of food in the Gulf skyrocketing by 75 percent since 2000, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries need to increasingly invest in agriculture in the African nations, according to an expert.Delivering a lecture on ‘The prospects of the GCC states’ organised by the Centre of Information Affairs here Monday, Mohamed Adel El Ghandour of the Egyptian NGO Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA) said GCC countries spent over $12 billion on food imports annually.

This, he said, made it all the more imperative for the GCC nations to invest in agriculture abroad, the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprise the GCC.

According to El Ghandour, Saudi Arabia spent the most on food imports followed by the UAE.

This was why the two countries have moved to sign international agreements to secure food and diversify their agricultural resources.

He added that investing in agriculture abroad has become part of the UAE investment policy, and the country was seriously considering the possibility of buying more than 100,000 acres of land in Pakistan, in a deal worth $500 million.

The UAE also has a project of developing 70,000 acres in Sudan.

The NGO activist also mentioned that that the rise in food prices accounted for 30 percent of the inflation in the GCC countries.

He warned that high energy prices, limited water resources, and increasing food demand have greatly increased the costs of strategic products around the world.

He expected the prices of these essential items to double by 2020.

He said that the Nile basin countries hold great scope for supplying food to the Arab nations.

Making special mention of Sudan, El Ghandour said the country, with its water abundance and its huge fertile land, as well as its geographical proximity to the GCC countries, provides a good investment opportunity, and can meet the needs of Arab countries for food, especially meat, milk, and fishery products.

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