Over the years, the food industry has evolved to offer consumers with food alternatives through innovations. This further paved the way for implementing contemporary food processing and organic farming methods, owing to the rising health concerns.
With the surge in the production and distribution of variant food supplements in the global market, there is a dilemma of price hike faced by Middle Eastern countries. Besides, not limited to one factor, the humid-arid atmosphere in the region also acts as a barrier in cultivating crops, which increases their reliance on the food products imported from the global market. Further, to ensure an adequate supply of food products, governments are compelled to take measures to ensure food security.
COVID-19 Intrusion on the Food Influx
The pandemic outbreak disrupted the demand-supply chain in many GCC countries, leaving the region exposed to food products shortage. The GCC countries are recognized for the massive imports of wheat, cereal, meat, and vegetables. However, fortunately, these countries eluded taking extreme measures to secure food supply due to the panic buying among the consumers. However, amidst the outbreak, there has been an increase in the demand for organic dairy food and beverages as residents become cautious about safeguarding their health.
In such a case, the GCC countries’ authorities are obliged to come up with alternatives to bridge the gap between the demand and supply chain. Internally, they are expected to formulate entities to ensure food security and the production of quality products. This further widens the opportunity for the countries to implement practices, comprising genetically modified crops, seawater farming, and urban farming methods. It is essential to consider that genetically modified crops are scientifically stated to have no health hazard, making it ideal for cultivation in these countries owing to their environmental conditions. Above all, intrusions in the food industry have not only disturbed the supply of nutritious food products, but also impaired the economy in many of the GCC countries. Therefore, requiring government assistance in sustaining against future shocks.
Government Action Plan
The uncertainty that lingers owing to the pandemic has induced government organizations to structure new policies and measures to elevate the market supply. According to several news reports, the United Arab Emirates has initiated the functioning of Agriota, which is an e-market Agri-commodity trading and sourcing platform that enables to link the rural farmers in India to the food industry in the Gulf region. Furthermore, this initiative is primarily set up to permit farmers to detour intermediaries and enhance supply gain, which will generate significant value for the stakeholders. Amidst the pandemic, this online platform helps attain transparency and offers a solution in bridging the gap between demand and supply of food essentials.
The United Arab Emirates has also acknowledged the need to boost quality initiatives to withstand any crisis in the years ahead. After the rearrangement of the UAE Cabinet in August, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, reviewed the food and water security planning and instructed ministers to surge the investments in food technology. He directed his vision to foster international partnerships, which will assist in offering practical solutions.
Earlier in May, Saudi Arabia’s Agriculture Development Fund had revealed the disbursement of 2 billion riyals to sponsor the imported agriculture products to secure food supplies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, as per media reports. The scheme mainly targets the staple products comprising rice, sugar, soybeans, and yellow corns. In a statement, they emphasized the initial objective is to meet the development priorities and diminish the economic impacts on the private and agricultural sectors.
It is relatively challenging to comprehend whether such a situation may arise in the future. In such a scenario, it is a plausible explanation as to why governments must structure their policies with a flexible approach. Moreover, to prevail any such circumstanced in the years ahead.