Published — Sunday 6 January 2013
Last update 7 January 2013 9:43 am
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is not self-sufficient in most strategic food commodities because of limited water resources, a scarcity of arable land and the growing population, said Khalid Al-Rwais, supervisor of the King Abdullah Chair for Food Security.
In an interview with Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper, Al-Rwais stressed the fact that the Kingdom needs to establish a secure and strategic stock of basic commodities to avoid any future food crisis.
"The world is facing a significant shortage in basic food commodities accompanied by an increase in demand. This has led to a sharp rise in the prices of goods and food in general," said Al-Rwais.
He pointed to the problems caused over the past two years in many parts of the world by adverse natural conditions, the effects of climate change, drought and recurrent frost formation. This caused the destruction of large grain fields in some major agricultural countries such as Australia, China, Argentina and India, which in turn affected the supply of food grains and a resultant spike in global prices.
"It has become necessary for the Kingdom to achieve food security by maintaining a strategic stock of wheat, rice, vegetable oil, sugar, meat and poultry that is enough for domestic consumption for at least six months," he added. He said some countries exporting agricultural products impose high tariffs and set up restrictions on exports in times of shortages.
He said stocks are determined by local production, imports and agricultural investments abroad. He referred to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's order to the Cabinet to ensure an adequate provision of food in the Kingdom in the short, medium and long term. This is to counter emergencies, in light of the unstable military, political and economic conditions in the Middle East.