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Washington, D.C., International Food Policy Research Institute, 1984 Dec. 74 p. (International Food Policy Research Institute Research Report No. 47)Spurred by the rapid rise in oil revenues and the surge in demand for food that has accompanied them, a widening gap between food supply and demand has led to huge increases in imports in the Middle East/North Africa since 1973. At the same time, changing food preferences have altered the composition of the foods consumed. During the overall period 1966-80, consumption of staple foods in the region increased by 3.9% per year, but the annual average for the years after 1973 was greater, 4.8%. Both comsumption and population grew more rapidly in the oil-exporting countries. Although the infusion of income in the poverty-stricken labor-exporting countries fostered a rise in demand, the slowdown in population growth as a result of migration held down the annual growth in the consumption of staples. On the production side, the performance of agriculture in the region as a whole has not kept pace with the increased demand. Differences in the amounts of food the countries produce have become pronounced in recent years. Regional growth in production shifted from increases in area sown to increases in yield in the later period as land became scarcer. To close the projected regional gap in basic staples of 52 million metric tons by the year 2000, staple food production would have to increase 4.7% annually, but its projected growth is only 2.7% per year. Eventual surpluses might lead to a widening of intraregional trade and greater food security for all of the countries in the region.