Food security in the Middle East

Authored by: Hussein A. Amery

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Security

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138749894
eBook ISBN: 9781315180113
Adobe ISBN:


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Food security is a multi-dimensional concept that is subject to environmental, economic, political policy and cultural considerations. This chapter discusses the development and use of water resources in the Middle East to meet the food and other needs of the population throughout history as well as the challenges in food security. Approximately 70% of the world’s fresh water supplies are used in the production of food and a much higher percentage in more arid regions like the Middle East. Consequently, protecting local water supplies by outsourcing food production is an increasingly critical policy shift.. The global food supply system is effective in meeting populations’ demands, but trade flows can be interrupted by politics, violence or natural phenomena such as droughts in food-exporting countries. In addition to the challenges and threats to food security in the Middle East, two opportunities to enhance it are foreign agricultural investments, and reducing food waste. Middle Eastern countries rely on food imports. While heavy dependence on food imports is an inherently risky venture, countries’ diversification of food sourcing reduces the risk of trade flows. Minimizing food waste domestically would save the treasury money and reduce pressure on local water supplies. Food security is enhanced through improving resilience of farming communities, embracing sustainable farming methods and mobilizing investments in transportation, storage infrastructure and related science and technology.

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