Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Security and Development

Sources:
The Ghanaian Journal: Ghana-Qatar Talks on Food Security Programme
Bloomberg Businessweek: Ghana, Qatar Plan to Start Joint Agriculture Project Next Year
Trade Arabia: Ghana, Qatar in Food JV Talks

Ghana and Qatar plan to create a joint venture company early next year to produce food for both countries. A pilot project will be created that will cover 50,000 hectares in Ghana. Both parties have agreed to expand the program if the pilot project is successful, which it is projected to be. The type of food that will be grown will be diverse, encompassing fruit, vegetables, cereal and rice.

Qatar is operating a food security program led by the Hassad Food Company to protect it from the same disaster that occurred during the 2008 food price crisis. Although the causes of the food crisis are still not totally clear, it is certain that the crisis was expensive to Qatar. Qatar imports almost all of its food, so Qatar was totally dependent on getting its food from the world market, where prices had greatly increased. Qatar wants to control its own secure source of food.

Ghana is also gaining in this deal. In May, 2010, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), an agency under the Ghanaian President, said it was seeking investments from Qatar totaling around $700 million to develop the agriculture and natural resources of Ghana. Family farming is the current basis of the Ghanaian farming system, leaving room for modernization under Hassad Food. In addition to providing more demand and developing Ghanaian agriculture, the GIPC is also seeking Qatar’s aid in utilizing Ghana’s oil and metals.

Ghana has rich supplies of oil, gas, and bauxite, a type of aluminum ore. Qatar has expertise in the oil and gas industry and has a strong aluminum industry. Ghana is seen as a country ready to rapidly expand as its natural resources are still underdeveloped. In fact, Ghana seems to be in such a favorable position that the GIPC CEO quipped, “We need to build more five star hotels because we expect a boom.”

Despite the increase in production that will occur because of the project, many local farmers are against Hassad Food’s actions to modernize Ghanaian agriculture. Family farmers will either be co-opted by the incoming food conglomerate or have to face much tougher competition to sell their food on the market as modern, more efficient methods bring lower prices.

Discussion:
1. Ghana is a country rich in natural resources. What is the likelihood Ghana will become less democratic and more elitist (like Middle Eastern nations after discovering abundant natural resources)?
2. Qatar and China are both heavily investing in Africa. Is there a serious prospect of conflict, political or otherwise, between the two nations as a result of their competing interests?
3. Qatar is an Islamic nation. Will Qatar’s greater involvement in Ghana help spread Islam in Ghana and the region?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your Facts are wrong, you should check www.qnfsp.gov.qa for clairfication on what the Food Security Programme is.

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