The Book

Eckart Woertz, Oil for Food. The Global Food Crisis and the Middle East (New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Concise overview of the Global Food Crisis and the Middle East
  • Sheds light on the geopolitical importance of food trade and food boycotts and how this has played out in the Middle East since World War II
  • Draws lessons from the failed Sudan bread-basket strategy of the 1970s
  • Analyzes the foreign agro-investments by Gulf countries- the so-called Gulf ‘land grab’- and accounts for the gap between project plans and their actual implementation
  • Historical account of the political economy of Gulf agriculture and food security

In the wake of the global food crisis of 2008 Middle Eastern oil producers announced multi-billion investments to secure food supplies from abroad. Often called land grabs, such investments are at the heart of the global food security challenge and put the Middle East in the spotlight of simultaneous global crises in the fields of food, finance, and energy. Water scarcity here is most pronounced, import dependence growing, and the links between oil and food are manifold ranging from the economics of biofuels to climate change and the provision of crucial input factors like fuels and fertilizers. In the future, the Middle East will not only play a prominent role in global oil, but also in global food markets, this time on the consumption side.

In Oil for Food, Eckart Woertz analyzes the geopolitical implications behind the current investment drive of Arab Gulf countries in food insecure countries like Sudan or Pakistan. Having lived in Dubai for seven years, and drawing on extensive archival sources and interviews, he gives the inside story of how regional food security concerns have developed historically, how domestic agro-lobbies shape policy making, and how the failed attempt to develop Sudan as an Arab bread-basket in the 1970s carries important lessons for today’s investments drive.

The book argues against the media hype that has been created around land grabs and analyzes why there has been such a gap between announced projects and their actual implementation. Instead, it calls for a revision of Gulf food security policies and suggests policy alternatives. It is essential reading for academics interested in the political economy of the Gulf region and for practitioners in governments, media, and international organizations who deal with contemporary food security and energy issues.

Readership: Academics: Middle East Studies, Development Economics, Food security specialists, International Relations. Executives at International Organizations, NGOs, Ministries.

1: The Gulf Food Security Predicament
Part I: Gulf Food Security: History, Political Economy, and Geopolitics
2: Ethiopian Wheat and American Tires: Gulf Food Security and World War II
3: Rise and Fall of the Blooming Desert: The Self-Sufficiency Illusion
4: The Food Weapon: Geopolitics in the Middle East
Part II: Gulf Food Security and International Agro-investments
5: The Global Land Grab Phenomenon
6: The Sudan Bread-Basket Dream
7: Return to the Future: Current GCC Agro-investments
8: Explaining the Implementation Gap: Money, Water, and Politics
9: Oil for Food Policies?

1 thought on “The Book

  1. Wenn Ich das so versuche zu lesen hätte Ich in der Schule besser aufpassen solllen. Sieht so aus, wie das es Dir gut geht. Das freut mich.

    Grüssle aus der alten Heimat.

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