Grain Production and Food Security in Arab Countries

Grains are the most important group of products in the food security programs of the Arab countries. These countries suffer from a shortage of food in general and in particular a shortage of grains. This results from a rapidly growing population and growing disposable incomes. This paper describes the grain sector in the economy of the Arab countries with special attention to its role in the national and regional food security programs. First, output and consumption of grains between 1973 and 1984 are analysed in all Arab countries, with special attention to wheat. Second, the concept of food security is discussed. Food security is defined as continuity of food supply to the whole population and unhampered access to food by all groups of the population. Food security is considered principally as a problem of short-term variability of food production and instability of imports. Food insecurity is thus measured by the size of production and consumption variability in relation to the long-term levels of consumption and production. The standard deviation and the coefficient of variation are used as indicators of the variability. Last, strategies and policies for achievement of food security are discussed. The growing food supply gap in the Arab countries implies the need to increase grain production as an element of major importance in the development of food -security programs. Proper grain policies must foresee increases of yields, reduction of post-harvest losses, and increased capacity to handle and store grain reserves. The establishment of national and regional Arab strategic grain stocks equal to the average magnitude of harvest shortfalls is recommended as one measure of short-term strategy. The long-term strategy, in turn, focuses on development of domestic agricultural production and greater cooperation among the Arab countries.

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Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, 02, 1
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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