Bahrain launches $265m food security fund

Like Qatar, Bahrain also sets its site on “food self-sufficiency.” The announcement of the fund does not mention the futuristic means like hydroponics and solar based desalination that the Qatar National Food Security Program is aiming at. Its focus is more on dairy farming, aquaculture and above all poultry. Of course for real self-sufficiency Bahrain does not have the water and the arable land. It will need to import the feedstock (e.g. grains, soybeans, fishmeal) for livestock and aquaculture, which will create new import dependence. That does not need to be bad. The country like the rest of the Gulf will need to rely on food trade and poultry production close to home might be more efficient than importing it from far away Brazil, which is the main provider of poultry meat to the Gulf. The case for dairy farming in the desert and on a small island with limited land reserve is less compelling. In aquaculture Bahrain like Saudi Arabia aims at carnivorous saltwater fish and shrimps, not at sweet water fish with its much more favorable conversion efficiency from plant based input factors to animal proteins. The size of the fund ($265 mn) is rather paltry compared to Bahrain’s need. While not realistic, the rhetoric of food self-sufficiency is ever present in the announcement of the project, which should also satisfy commercial aspirations. It always helps to sing from the hymn sheet of self-sufficiency to push forward the latter.

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