FAO Investment Centre

The Grain Chain: Managing Wheat Imports in Arab Countries


Given their reliance on cereal imports, especially wheat, Arab countries are particularly concerned about higher and more volatile international food commodity prices. With food prices soaring in early 2011 – the second time in just four years –  investments in improving the wheat import supply chain are crucial to saving money and reducing countries’ exposure to food security risks, according to a joint FAO/World Bank study.  
On 10 November, FAO hosted a discussion of the study – “The Grain Chain:  Managing Wheat Imports in Arab countries”. The study argues for a comprehensive approach to the wheat import supply chain – from the unloading port to the flour mill – that looks at making better use of strategic storage, improving supply chain logistics and developing procurement strategies.
The demand for wheat in Arab countries will likely grow, especially as populations and incomes expand. A well-performing wheat supply chain, therefore, can save money while helping improve food security by mitigating the risk of food supply disruptions as well as international price shocks.
The study is in line with “Improving Food Security in Arab Countries”, the recent joint World Bank/FAO/IFAD strategy framework that looks at three critical areas for reducing vulnerability to future price shocks, namely:  (1) addressing increased demand by strengthening safety nets, providing people with better access to family planning services and promoting nutrition education; (2) enhancing the domestic food supply and improving rural livelihoods by addressing lagging productivity growth through increased investment in water efficiency, and agricultural research and development; (3) reducing exposure to market volatility by improving supply chain efficiency and procurement systems and by using financial instruments more effectively to hedge risk.