Mideast reels as hunger outgrows oil revenues

  • 07/05/2008
  • FAO

For years, food policy in the Middle East and North Africa was very simple: hydrocarbon exports paid for carbohydrate imports. Rising agricultural commodities prices and a large population increase mean that the traditional policy is now untenable even if crude oil trades at about $120 a barrel, forcing countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, to reconsider how it feeds its population. "The region has woken up to the new food market reality," says Abdolreza Abbassian, an expert at the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.