Dubai: The negligence of some countries towards agriculture and the agricultural land raises concerns about food security in the Arab region and around the world, an expert said during a session titled ‘Food Security and the Future Challenges’ organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
During the session, Dr. Hayel Obiedat, senior consultant, G42-HYT, underlined that there are significant issues with global food security, particularly for the 854 million people who live in developing nations and account for 18 per cent of the global population.
He said: “Food problem is a humanitarian tragedy, as hunger and malnutrition cause millions of deaths every year, while medical expenses relating to malnutrition in developing countries are estimated at USD 30 billion every year.”
“Many countries around the world are suffering from an increasing gap between local food production and increasing consumption as a natural result of population growth,” he added.
Global food spending
Dr. Obiedat noted the global food spending amount is exceeding US$ 2.6 trillion. “Individuals around the world are spending close to 37 per cent of their income on food, with this percentage reaching its highest levels in African countries at 48 per cent sometimes, and it ranges from 32 per cent to 43 per cent in Arab countries.
“Additionally, individuals in the Arab Gulf are spending 12 per cent to 26 per cent of their income on food every year, with 6 per cent in the USA, and 12 per cent to 13 per cent in Western Europe,” he added.
Ensuring food security
Dr. Obiedat also explained the factors contributing to the escalation of food safety and security challenges, such as increasing population growth, limited natural and agricultural resources and their misuse, transformations in food patterns, climate change, in addition to the challenges faced by the food manufacturing industry.
He emphasised the importance of coordination and concerted efforts among all countries in addressing this global phenomenon. He also advocated for advancing innovation in the food sector and adopting more effective and sustainable methodologies for managing crop irrigation and food production.