October 01, 2014
The Economic Development Board (EDB) published a white paper to assess Bahrain’s food security environment. Using the well-known Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) food security index methodology, the EDB has been able to identify complex elements that influence food security in Bahrain and the Kingdom’s unique strengths and weaknesses and, in doing so, informing the debate and elevating the issue with policymakers and business decision makers.
The results of the EDB analysis demonstrate that Bahrain has a good environment for food security which is mainly driven by the Kingdom’s ability to stabilise food prices, secure imports, and operate advanced food safety and monitoring systems. In fact, Bahrain’s highest performance is on the affordability of food and is largely the result of low percentage spending on food relative to total household expenditure, as well as the universal subsidy programme used to stabilise the prices of essential food items. Bahrain also boasts a daily food energy supply per capita per day of 2,829 kcal, significantly above the recommended average of 2,300 kcal by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
However, the agricultural sector has attracted rising concern and development focus due to uncertainty triggered by the supply shocks experienced globally during the last five years and the ever-increasing price index for food items. In Bahrain specifically, agricultural production has historically been constrained by the Kingdom’s climate and geography. To address this issue the government has been able to disburse increasing funds on agriculture research and development initiatives targeting smart space management and irrigation systems. Imports have also been secured through strategic trading links and by providing efficient infrastructure for delivery and distribution of products.
H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB, commented on the white paper saying: “Food security is an increasingly important issue, not just for the Gulf and Middle East region but for the entire global economy as the world’s population continues to rapidly expand. Ensuring that food is attainable and affordable is very much at the top of Bahrain’s policy agenda. This research not only effectively evaluate Bahrain’s position and confirm the Kingdom’s good environment for food security, but also looks at measures taken by government to secure food production and distribution channels. It is the ambition of this white paper to inform debate and encourage discussion around new ways to build on Bahrain’s performance.”