Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East* - By Earth Policy Institute

Primary tabs

Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East* - By Earth Policy Institute

Earth Policy Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to planning a sustainable future as well as providing a roadmap of how to get from here to there.
tweet me:
Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East* http://bit.ly/iWu9AQ

Summary

The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 10:31pm

CONTENT: Blog

Long after the political uprisings in the Middle East have subsided, many underlying challenges that are not now in the news will remain. Prominent among these are rapid population growth, spreading water shortages, and ever growing food insecurity.

In some countries, grain production is now falling as aquifers are depleted. After the Arab oil-export embargo of the 1970s, the Saudis realized that since they were heavily dependent on imported grain, they were vulnerable to a grain counter-embargo. Using oil-drilling technology, they tapped into an aquifer far below the desert to produce irrigated wheat. In a matter of years, Saudi Arabia was self-sufficient in wheat, its principal food staple.

But after more than 20 years of wheat self-sufficiency, the Saudis announced in January 2008 that this aquifer was largely depleted and they would be phasing out wheat production. Between 2007 and 2010, the wheat harvest of nearly 3 million tons dropped by more than two thirds. At this rate the Saudis likely will harvest their last wheat crop in 2012 and then be totally dependent on imported grain to feed their Canada-sized population of nearly 30 million people.

The unusually rapid phaseout of wheat farming in Saudi Arabia is due to two factors. First, in this arid country there is little farming without irrigation. Second, irrigation there depends almost entirely on a fossil aquifer, which, unlike most aquifers, does not recharge naturally from rainfall. And the desalted sea water Saudi Arabia uses to supply its cities is far too costly for irrigation use, even for the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia’s growing food insecurity has even led it to buy or lease land in several other countries, including two of the world’s hungriest, Ethiopia and Sudan. In effect, the Saudis are planning to produce food for themselves with the land and water resources of other countries to augment their fast growing imports.

continue reading at Earth Policy Institute

Keywords: Corporate Responsibility | Earth Policy Institute | Economy | Environmentalist | Government | Green | Sustainability | Sustainable Business | environment | policy

CONTENT: Blog