Agra ME and Vet ME open tomorrow
Dubai, March 28, 2010
The region’s biggest agricultural business trade show, Agra Middle East, and Vet Middle East are all set to open tomorrow (March 29) at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Strategies to secure ready access to affordable, nutritious and safe-for-consumption food commodities is top of the agenda for Middle East governments, say the organisers of the events.
“Many GCC countries are suffering from food shortages with the exception, in some cases, of fish and vegetables. The difference between what their farms produce and domestic consumer demand has increased considerably since 1990,” said Goutam Malhotra, exhibition manager, for organisers IIR Middle East.
According to independent reports by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development (AOAD), Arab countries can only produce between 30 and 50 per cent of their cereal, wheat, barley and cooking oil needs. The difference between imports and exports of food products reached a record high of $23 billion in 2008 to bring the cumulative amount of Arab food shortage to $155.5 billion during 2000-2008.
“The UAE currently relies on imports for up to 85 per cent of its food requirements which costs $2.9 billion per annum and furthermore the GCC’s dependence on food imports had reached $10 billion by the end of 2008,” added Malhotra.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and other arid Gulf countries have started to fund agricultural projects in Sudan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan and most recently Azerbaijan. The UAE hopes to cease domestic wheat production altogether by 2016 in order to conserve water, while Saudi Arabia has already looked at implementing a similar policy.
According to Australian Financial Review recently, Saudi is now already trying to buy wheat from Australia, in an effort to secure 2.5 million metric tons of supply. The kingdom has already been importing significant amounts of grain from Canada for the last two years trying to satisfy domestic consumption.
The UAE has resorted to a food security strategy of building a stockpile of 15 basic commodities.
“The importance of events such as Agra Middle East is emphasised by the growing concerns over food security which is pushing countries in the Arabian Gulf to seek solutions to arid land problems,” said Malhotra.
Running for more than 10 years, Agra Middle East from March 29 to 31. The show covers five closely linked sectors – agribusiness; poultry and livestock; fishing and aquaculture; floriculture and the newly launched machinery and supplies.
Running alongside Agra Middle East is the region’s premier event for the veterinary profession, Vet Middle East. It brings together regional veterinary practitioners and public health officials with manufacturers and suppliers of products and services from pharmaceuticals to food supplements as well as the technological advances in veterinary healthcare.
A Vet Middle East conference will also feature sessions on equine and camel health; technological advances in the breeding of animals; genetic improvement of racing camels; new advances in veterinary care and therapies; and imaging, diagnostics and surgery.-TradeArabia News Service