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4. Growing food gap in the Near East

As indicated in table 6, all Near East sub-regions would have relatively large food deficits by the year 2010, with the exception of Turkey which has large agricultural resources. The region's food gap compared with that of 1995 would increase by around 54 percent, reflecting an annual growth rate of 2.9 percent.

Table 6: Food deficit in the Near East region in 2010

Sub-Regions Production Demand Deficit
Maghreb 49,850 77,654 27,804
N.E. Africa 72,045 88,081 16,027
Arabian Peninsula 17,754 41,811 24,057
West Asia 26,665 56,729 20,064
Middle Asia 157,101 178,935 21,834
Turkey 107, 470 102,515 (Surplus) 4,955
Total 2010 440,885 545,723 99,883
Total 1995 299,659 364,595 64,936

Source: FAO Agriculture Toward 2010

The production contribution to food demand in the sub-regions, in relation to the size of their populations, differs considerably. Middle Asia with 45 percent of the region's population would account only for 22 per cent of the food gap. On the other hand, the Arabian Peninsula with only 7.5 of the region's population would be responsible for 24 percent of that gap.

Countries may also be grouped according to their projected food self-sufficiency ratios (SSR: food production/total demand) as illustrated table 7. About one-third of the countries would have SSR of less than 60 percent. They include three oil-rich countries and two low-income countries. The latter would be in a predicament due to their limited food import capacity. Although considered middle-income countries, Iraq and Jordan would face similar problems unless their foreign exchange resources increase commensurately. The second group comprises middle-income countries that would have to generate sufficient foreign exchange to finance the importation of 20 to 30 percent of their domestic needs. Turkey and Morocco in the third group would be able to meet their food demand from indigenous production. The other three in the group are low-income countries that have sufficient agricultural resources; both their high SSRs are attained at low nutritional levels. Regardless of these inter-country variations, the fact remains that the entire region (with the exception of Turkey) would continue to be a food deficit region.

Table 7: Projected food self-sufficiency ratios in selected countries of the Near East in 2010

Less than 60% 60 - 80% More than 80%
Libya Tunisia Morocco
Saudi Arabia Egypt Turkey
Algeria Syria Somalia
Mauritania Lebanon Sudan
Yemen Iran Afghanistan
Iraq   Pakistan

Source: Computed from Agriculture Toward 2010 (FAO)

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