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Policy Briefs on Food Security Issues in the Arab Region

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The policy briefs provide key policy recommendations to enhance food security in the Arab region, with a focus on issues pertaining to agriculture productivity, engagement with world food markets and food loss and waste. These were extracted from the joint ESCWA and FAO report: “Arab Horizon 2030: Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region.”

Policy Brief 1: Agricultural production has increased across the region through land under cultivation expansion rather than crop yields improvement. The brief highlights that increasing productivity and production will require integrated approaches to soil, crop and water management that allow for the optimization of productivity and resource-use efficiency while ensuring stable and decent harvests. This will require the promotion of sustainable and climate-smart farming techniques and selection of high yield crop varieties that are less vulnerable to salinity, drought and heat shocks. It calls as well for promoting a market-oriented agriculture; supporting rain-fed systems; supporting research, development and technology adoption; improving farming services and agricultural value chain; developing rural finance and infrastructure; and strengthening the land tenure system.

Policy Brief 2: World food markets help Arab countries fill their widening production-consumption gap arising from population growth, high urbanisation and shifting dietary preferences. The brief calls for Arab countries to increase regional food production by investing in their agricultural sectors; promoting agricultural commodity Regional Value Chains; investing in the agricultural sector of resource-rich countries; developing capacity to store and transport food; improving import supply chain management and logistics; and diversifying trading partners to reduce exposure to global price shocks.

Policy Brief 3: Food loss and waste imposes multidimensional challenges on regional food systems and affects the resiliency of markets, producers and vulnerable consumers. Food loss and waste occurs across all stages of the food value chain and result in increased costs, reduced revenues and decreased resource-use efficiency. To effectively reduce food loss and waste, Arab countries need to adopt appropriate technology and innovative practices and learn from successful initiatives. There is a need to improve storage conditions; adopt technological innovations for transport, handling, processing and marketing; improve infrastructure and trading facilities; and promote food processing.