The Role of Agriculture to Enhance Food Security and Alleviate Poverty Speech

The Role of Agriculture to Enhance Food Security and Alleviate Poverty Speech

By: Mr. Turki Faisal Al Rasheed

Crans Montana Forum April 7 to 10, 2010.



The role of agriculture to enhance food security,

Promote economic growth, and improve people’s standard of living.

The world and the World Bank have forgotten the importance of food and agriculture.

Currently the industrial world is operating at 60 to 70% capacity. Unfortunately, agriculture is now operating in full capacity.




World food prices in 2007-08, experienced their sharpest rise in 30 years, followed by the financial and economic crisis in 2009.

Governments are concerned that as population growth increases, high unemployment, arable land reductions combined with the effect of urbanization, economic growth and food security, may emerge as one of the key issues of this century.

Water scarcity in Saudi Arabia is one of the limiting factors to local food production. Cereal grains have to be imported to compensate for the water deficit. Water consumption at 23 billion cubic meters (BCM) of which 20 BCM consumed for Agricultural purposes, accounting to 87.5% of total water consumption (SAMA 2008) World Ave. 71% (yang 2003)

Role of Agriculture


  • Improve food security
  • Promote Economic Growth
  • Water Optimization
  • Government  Social Responsibility( CSR)
  • Employment/Poverty Reduction, depopulation rural areas

Food Security


Food Security means that food is available at all times; that all persons have means of access to it; that it is nutritionally adequate in terms of quantity, quality, and variety; and that is acceptable within the given culture. ( FAO)

The number of malnourished people in the world rose to over 1 billion this year, up from 915m in 2008 (FAO). World Bank Economist reckons that the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day will rise by 89m this year.

Agriculture and food security have become “the core of the international agenda”, as the G8 called it.

Economic Growth


Most recent development strategies emphasized development as the main source of economic growth and were partial against the agricultural sector.

Traditionally, agriculture economist consider that growth in the farm sector provides food, raw materials, labor , capital, and foreign exchange necessary to finance subsequent growth in the rest of the economy, while simultaneously growth in the rest of the economy, while at the same time  generating an additional demand of industrial goods and services.

Water Optimization


In GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia it was decided that, given impending water shortages, it will stop producing wheat by 2016.

Instead to grow and ship it over from elsewhere provided that the whole process was firmly under their control.

The idea is to secure deals, particularly by Islamic countries, by which they will supply capital, inputs in exchange for guarantees that their corporations will have access to farmland and be able export, some of the produce to Saudi Arabia.

Corporate Social Responsibility


CSR is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.

It is about capturing the whole sets of values, issues and process that companies must address in order to minimize any harm resulting from their activities and to create economic (profit), social (people), and environmental (planet) value.

Employment/Poverty Reduction,

Depopulation rural areas


The objectives were food security through self-sufficiency and improvement of rural incomes thereby minimizing internal migration from rural areas to urban areas.




African governments have committed to spend 10% of their budgets on agriculture.  Mostly to build rural roads, subsidize inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, give special help to the poorest smallholders as a kind of safety net, and to intervene in the operation markets, sometimes to improve and sometimes to control (economist 2009).



Food security is not only about food. It is all about security, chronic hunger threatens individuals, governments, societies and borders.

Agriculture development is a motivating factor, to narrow the gap, where CSR can be implemented in an effective way to the development needs for rural and suburb areas. I.e. unemployment, food security, poverty reduction, and improving quality of life. Reducing imbalances in regional development and rationalizing water usage.

Achieving food security needs policy and investment reforms on multiple dimensions.




Food security is the political aspect of agriculture development.

Agriculture is one of the most effective tools to promote growth and improve people’s standard of living.  To highlight the neglect of agricultural development, we take an example:  The World Bank lending in 1980 was 25% loan to agriculture project.  In the year 2000,   the number went down to 10% only.  Moreover, the bank has lost almost half of its technical staff in the area of agriculture development.(Econ.2009)

Economic Development is a sustainable boost in the standard of living of the people of a country.  It implies an increase in the per capita income of every citizen.  It also leads to the creation of more opportunities in the sectors of education, healthcare, employment and the conservation of the environment.

Central Governments must not give all the priority to urban areas but must balance it with rural development.






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