Arab World needs $80.65 billion in agricultural investment to close the widening food gap, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, said.
In his keynote address to the Annual Meeting of Arab Financial Institutions and the Fourth Meeting for the Council of Arab Finance Ministers, Sheikh Hamdan stressed that the UAE's initiative to enhance economic stability in the Arab region, which it presented in September 2011 in Abu Dhabi, considers an important step in the march of joint Arab economic.
He also confirmed the importance of regional cooperation and joint Arab action to establish several joint regional projects.
He added that Arab communities were facing many challenges in light of the regional economic blocs in the world that require economic and social integration.
In this context, he said that the real growth rate in the Arab region had decreased 4.6 percent in 2010 to 2.4 per cent in 2011, while the foreign debt rates in some Arab countries ranged between 22 percent to 86 percent and the foreign financial flows dropped from US$20 billion to become 16 billion.
He also stressed that food security tops the list of main challenges facing Arab countries, taking into account that Arab agricultural projects did not achieve the targeted increase in productivity to meet the growing demand for food for several reasons, including poor infrastructure, investment environment, financial resources and scientific research in addition to agricultural services which led to widening food gap to reach US$41 billion in 2010 and is expected to reach about US$89 billion in 2020. He pointed out that closing the gap will require agricultural investments estimated by US$80.65 billion.
The food gap which stood at US$41 billion in 2010 is expected to rise to US$89 billion in 2020, he said.
Sheikh Hamdan expressed his thanks and appreciation for the distinguished contributions and active role played by the joint Arab institutions and funds through funding the development, investment and trade projects in addition to supporting the agricultural sector in the Arab countries.
He called these institutions to find a comprehensive strategies to accommodate regional and international developments and to double its operations to meet the aspirations of the peoples of the region.
Emirates News Agency, WAM