Food security and the aspirations of the population in the Arab countries

Prof. Dr Moustafa El-Abdallah Al Kafry

Food security and the aspirations of the population in the Arab countries

Prof. Dr Moustafa El-Abdallah Al Kafry

So far, governments in Arab countries have not been able to provide enough food necessary for the safety and health of all their people. That inability cannot be justified by ignorance or by the cruelty of nature. To achieve this, food production needs to double, especially in countries with the means to double production. With some reflection, firm will and scientific management, each Government can use this knowledge to feed its citizens.

The citizen has become aspiring to economic progress for himself, his family, his clan, and his nation, even expects progress and comprehensive development to be achieved, not only to aspire to it, but to work for it. The grocer, the employee, the farmer, the factory worker, the university student and the businessman all aspire to improve the living conditions of themselves and their families in the years immediately following them, but the precise determination of these aspirations varies from country to country. However, the expectation of a significant improvement in the standard of living is a general phenomenon in the Arab world.

– Indicators of food shortage in the Arab countries:

The food crisis in the Arab countries is illustrated by the following indicators:

  1. Low per capita calorie below the global level. It should be noted that the number of calories obtained by the population varies.
  2. The widening gap between imports and exports of food commodities and products and the increasing dependence on imports to secure the food they need.
  3. Low self-sufficiency and levels, as a result of increasing food imports.

The abundance of food commodities and products, and the willingness or inability of people to buy them, does not negate the existence of the food crisis. The gravity of the food crisis lies in the increasing dependence on imports to secure the population’s need for foodstuffs. The importer cannot control the prices of imported materials (they may be difficult to provide at all times, and may be used as a means or tool to pressure the country to take a certain position). [2]

– The relationship between a growing population and their increasing food needs:

The relationship between a growing population and their growing food needs is very clear. There is also a relationship between the improvement of the level of income of the individual and the increase in his needs for foodstuffs in terms of quality and quantity. We can determine the relationship between population growth and increased food needs by:

  • The population is growing, thus increasing the number of mouths that need food.
  • Increased food consumption, resulting from an improvement in the income level of individuals.

The growth of aggregate demand for food commodities in the Arab world is affected by two main factors:

(1) – growing population.

(2) – per capita income.

This means that the rate of increase in the total demand for food commodities is equal to the rate of population growth plus the rate of increase in income per capita (or the so-called income elasticity of the individual), and we can illustrate this through the following equation:

  • I = demand (with X) + demand (with D. X)
  • Whereas:
  • I = demand with population growth rate + income growth rate
  • D = per capita income growth rate
  • X = population

It should be noted that consumers are divided into living groups in terms of income, and a distinction must be made between rural and urban, in addition to the disparity in per capita income. In general, the internal flexibility of food is lower.

The population experts at the United Nations hypothesized the population and then defined a universal equation to be used to estimate the population increase in the past centuries for all the peoples of the world. Through this equation, it was determined how long the population of the world population in general doubled. Based on this equation, the population of the Arab countries in the year 8000 BC did not exceed one million people, and in the first year of AD their number reached 8 million people, then reached in 1650 to 17 million and doubled in 1850 to become 32 million and then doubled again in 1930 and reached 64 million, and the actual census of 1975 indicates that the population of the Arab world has reached 138 million. The population of the Arab countries in 2000 reached about 290 million people, and today the population of the Arab countries in 2023 reaches about 420 million people. These figures indicate that Arab countries are currently experiencing an unprecedented population explosion. This will have the greatest impact on the food problem and the growing food deficit in the Arab world.

– Everyone is demanding more food and better health:

Everyone is demanding that they happen this year, not next year. More food for health, better medical services, better transportation, a mobile phone, in addition to securing schools for their children, and some luxury goods. They recognized these requests, and thought that they could obtain them, so they entered them in their accounts as urgent and continuous requests, during a period not exceeding half a century (1970-2020), and all this represented the “revolution of aspirations” that swept the entire Arab world.

The revolution of aspirations has been most acute in urban areas, due to the power of its driving factors. In rural areas, they were less severe, due to weak or no driving factors in the countryside. The revolution of aspirations is strongest among young people, weaker than among adults. Therefore, we find that the aspirations of different consumer groups in the Arab world are not all on one level. We see that the aspirations of urban youth in the Arab world reach the highest levels of enthusiasm in obtaining the fruits of material progress.

This group of the population aspires to reap tangible material gains for itself in the years of the immediate future. Young people have heard of various means, devices and inventions, which they believe that they have the right to take their share of what modern scientific production provides, and they know that new services and goods are available and rapidly spreading around the world, and that they can expect and obtain those services and goods in their countries during their lifetime.

Prof. Dr Moustafa El-Abdallah Al Kafry

Faculty of Economics – Damascus University

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