The scarce water resources and the little arable land, as well as the growing population, do not allow the Gulf Countries to guarantee their internal food security. In addition, rely economically only on oil and energetic income, it’s not a secure and durable sector. these are the main reasons for that these arid and desert countries are pushed to invest billions of dollars in buying arable land in Africa, ensuring therefore long-term food security. In this sense the acquisition abroad of land could sound as a good policy, from the Gulf point of view. By doing it, these countries will also manage to cut the cost to the consumers through bypassing world markets.
This solution appeared mainly as a consequence of the food crisis in 2007/2008 that caused riots from Cairo to Senegal. This Gulf “economic planning” could be seen on the one hand as an opportunity for the African countries because the Gulf will bring modern technology to failing agricultural regions, as well as create job opportunities in their land. On the other hand, it could be seen as a 'neo-colonial' food grab.
For instance, Qatar, which has only 1% of arable land, bought 40.000 hectares of land from Kenya in order to grow food. This land is in the Tana river, an area very fertile where the water resources are there in abundance. At the same time, it has to be considered that a third of the local population is facing a food shortage, and the decision of the President Kibaki to sell the land to Qatar for then appeal for international food relief... in your opinion, does this decision make sense?
Kuwait, an other Gulf country, decided to focus more on the Asian countries than on the African ones, already affected by deep poverty. China has signed a deal with Mozambique: land to Chinese people and in return military aid from Beijing. Also a British company has made a deal with Malawi in order to grab arable agricultural land.
Does it help development and these African countries or not? Could it be a solution for the food security of the Gulf countries?
Looking forward to hear your opinions.