“Much Tilling Without Harvest—Eyeing Pastures New”
In an article in the April 2009 issue of Zawya (UAE), Booz & Company Principal George Atalla (Middle East) outlined several strategies for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to diversify their food sources and avoid the growing threats of shortages and higher food prices. “Food security is officially defined not just as a shortage, but also looking at availability and affordability,” said Atalla. “There are a number of ways to ensure supply is always available,” he added, starting by diversifying sources so one crop could come from several places. With regional wheat prices rising 83 percent in 2008 and other staples doubling in price, GCC governments have been eating into reserves to placate populations, which are spending ever-larger proportions of their income on food. Atalla detailed several other possible strategies for GCC governments, from reviewing their internal networks, such as imports through more than one port; to reviewing storage capacity of four to six months; and exploring contract farming.