Here is a short version of my recent article on Iraqi Food Security on the Arab Spatial blog of IFPRI.
The academic journal Food Security has just published the following article of mine. It can be accessed here (read only):
Iraq’s food security has been profoundly affected by its oil-based economy, over three decades of conflict and its politics that have been shaped by authoritarian rentierism. The article outlines the political economy of food security in Iraq and how it has been shaped historically. It identifies various conditioning factors such as oil, conflict, environment, agricultural development strategies and institutional setups, such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), the world’s largest public food program. It then disentangles these factors in an analysis of data from Gallup, Iraq Body Count and various international organizations to give an appreciation of the Iraqi food security situation since the end of the Saddam regime. Finally, it takes a look at views of Iraqi experts on current food security issues in Iraq, using the results of an online survey that was conducted from May–October 2015 among 152 Iraqi experts from academia, ministries and NGOs. Iraqis overwhelmingly identify political instability and bad governance as major challenges to food security; it is unlikely that mere technocratic policy prescriptions can improve food security in the absence of political stability and improved governance.
Keywords: Food security Agriculture/ Iraq/ Middle East/ Authoritarianism/ Isis
The Kuwait Chair at Sciences Po invites to an academic conference on the topic of Crisis and Conflict in the Agrarian World: An Evolving Dialectic, in cooperation with the American University of Beirut and CIDOB, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. The conference will be held on 1-3 March 2017 in Paris.
Conference proceedings will be published towards the end of 2017 in an edited volume of CABI Publishers, a leading academic publisher on development, agriculture, food security and health issues.
The organizers invite abstracts or preferably detailed proposals with a short CV and list of publications. They should be submitted electronically to Eckart Woertz firstname.lastname@example.org and Rachel Anne Bahn email@example.com until 30 November 2016. Authors of selected papers will be notified by 2 December 2016 and should submit their papers by 1 February 2017.
The papers should have a length of 7,000 words and represent original research not presented or published elsewhere. All costs for travel and accommodation will be covered according to Sciences Po travel policy.
Texts can deal with a variety of crises and their impact on agriculture and food security, such as politically-driven violence and dispute, as well as crises stemming from natural disasters or other phenomena (earthquake/tsunami, drought, flooding, climate change, and disease epidemics). Case studies will explore the relationship between agriculture and conflict/crisis before, during, and after crisis periods.
Beside cross cutting and methodological explorations on topics like political ecology, gender, health, climate change, land grabs or ethnography we are interested in case studies of specific countries, particularly from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
We look forward to receiving your abstracts or proposals.
Further details about the call for papers you can find here: http://www.sciencespo.fr/psia/sites/sciencespo.fr.psia/files/Call_for_Papers_Agriculture_and_Conflict_2017.pdf
The academic journal Food Policy has published an article by Hadi Jaafar and myself about
“Agriculture as a Funding Source of ISIS: A GIS and remote sensing analysis”
The article is open access and can be downloaded here:
– Recurrent taxation of agriculture is a crucial income source for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) as extractive and non-recurrent income streams such as oil, ransom and confiscations show signs of dwindling
– ISIS has sustained agricultural production of rainfed winter crops (wheat and barley) despite the impact of conflict. Only irrigated summer crops (cotton) have suffered extensively
– We estimate that in 2015 ISIS might have derived income of $56 million from wheat and barley taxation alone. Additionally there is taxation further down the value chain of food processing and distribution
– The total value of estimated 2.45 million tons of wheat production in 2015 roughly equalled the annualized value of ISIS oil production during its height in late 2014 and early 2015
– Population in ISIS territory likely did not exceed 4 million in 2015, much lower than figures reported in the media of 8 million and more
– Iraq and Syria were wheat net-importers before the war; ISIS is not. It has an exportable surplus which it likely smuggles into the subsidized Iraqi food distribution system or to Turkey where prices are higher
– Agriculture in ISIS territory lives on bought time as supply chains for quality seeds and other input factors are disrupted. Food security and agriculture would need to have high priority in any post-ISIS reconstruction effort
Agriculture is an important source of income for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), which currently rules over large parts of the breadbaskets of the two countries. It has received limited attention compared to other sources of ISIS revenues such as oil, looting, ransom, foreign donations and various forms of taxation. We estimate winter crops production of wheat and barley in ISIS-controlled areas in both Syria and Iraq for the years 2014-2015 and irrigated summer crops production (cotton) in Northeast Syria. We show that remote sensing can give a credible estimation of agricultural production in the absence of statistics. With evidence from MODIS Aqua and Terra Satellites as well as Landsat imagery, we find that agricultural production in ISIS-controlled Syrian and Iraqi zones has been sustained in 2014 and 2015, despite the detrimental impact of conflict. After a drought in 2014 production was able to capitalize on improved rainfalls in 2015. First indications show that the winter grain harvest of 2016 in Iraqi territories of ISIS was significantly above pre-conflict mean and below pre-conflict mean in its Syrian territories. We also show how water flows along the Euphrates have impacted production. We estimate the revenue that ISIS can derive from wheat and barley production and the likely magnitude of an exportable surplus. Agricultural production gives the group a degree of resilience, although its economy is not sustainable in the longer run and could be affected by military collapse. Taxation of recurrent income streams such as agriculture will become more important for ISIS as its extractive sources of revenues show signs of dwindling. Beside non-grain food imports, agricultural production is crucial for its political legitimacy by ensuring food provision to the broader population. Food security considerations would require a high priority in any post-ISIS reconstruction effort and would need to include the rehabilitation of supply chains for agricultural inputs such as quality seeds and fertilizers.
The academic journal Food Security has just published a special section about MENA Food Trade Relations with Tropical Countries. It contains papers from a conference in Barcelona that was organized in January 2015 by CIDOB and the OCP Policy Center.
The introduction with a short description of all papers is open access and can be accessed here.
“The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is not only the largest oil exporter of the world, it is also its largest food importer. This import dependence will grow, given limited water and land resources on the supply side and population growth and more diversified diets on the demand side. In contrast to earlier food regimes, an increasing share of the MENA’s staple food imports such as corn, soybeans, palm oil, poultry, rice and sugar comes from tropical countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, where dramatic agricultural expansion has taken place. Other tropical regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa have looked to emulate such agricultural experiences, which are often based on large-scale and input intensive farming models. While such expansion processes have increased trade options of major importers such as the MENA, China and Japan, they have also had questionable ecological and socio-economic implications in the respective tropical countries.
Against this backdrop Eckart Woertz and Martin Keulertz set the scene in the opening article by analyzing food trade patterns of the MENA and the relative importance that tropical countries play in MENA food supplies. Their trade contribution has changed over different food regimes and now encompasses staple foods such as corn, rice and soybeans beside classical tropical export commodities. Woertz and Keulertz also discuss agricultural investment flows from the MENA to the tropics, associated political and socio-economic issues, a pronounced implementation gap of such investments and how they relate to MENA food security strategies. One of their conclusions is that food trading houses, storage strategies and brownfield investments in developed agro markets are more important as a trend than the widely publicized intention to acquire land in greenfield projects in developing countries.”
The journal International Development Policy which is edited at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and is open access has just published a special issue on land acquisitions.
Beside theoretical articles it has a special focus on South-East Asia and the cultivation of industrial crops like rubber.
Martin Keulertz and I have contributed an article about States as Actors in International Argo-Investments where we compare the Gulf States with China and governments in agro exporter nations such as Brazil, Russia and Thailand.
Deborah Brautigam of SAIS at Johns Hopkins University has published a new book about Chinese Agro-Investments in Africa that is already available as e-book (as hardcover in November).
Like Oil for Food she points to misleading media perceptions and states a widespread implementation gap of Chinese agro-investments. She challenges four conventional wisdoms in particular:
a) Chinese land acquisitions in Africa have been limited.
b) Private actors have played a major role in Chinese agro-investments, the role of the state is less pronounced than commonly assumed.
c) There have been no grain exports from Africa to China. Chinese investments mainly target local markets. As far as food trade occurs it is rather the other way around, i.e. China exports food to Africa.
d) There has not been a large scale influx of Chinese peasant framers to Africa.
OCP Policy Center and CIDOB invite the submission of papers that explore Reconfiguration of the Global South: Africa, Latin America and the “Asian Century”.
The conference will be held in Barcelona on 27-29 January 2016. For the full call for papers click here.
Proposals should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com no later than 30 October 2015.
Papers can deal with a broad based variety of topics that explore the mutual relationship and the positioning of the two continents in the emerging “Asian Century”, such as:
– Rise of emerging markets countries and what it means for an increasingly multilateral international system.
– New geopolitical constructions of the Global South: Asian vs. Western interests in Africa and Latin America.
– Theoretical approaches to democratization, transition and development.
– Trade and investment relations.
– Domestic growth strategies and development cooperation, particularly in infrastructure financing, energy, environmental preservation, agriculture and food security.
– Port cities and their role in facilitating exchange between the two continents.
– Maritime security and hard security issues.
– Free trade areas and regional association agreements.
– Migrant communities and cultural relations.
– Sustainable management of cities.
This article by Hadi Fathallah for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers interesting insights on the current food security situation in Iraq, based on reports by international organizations like the World Food Programme, Arabic and western press reports.
The wheat harvest in ISIS controlled territory has declined, in contrast to civil servant salaries, producer subsidies from the central government in Baghdad do not reach ISIS territory anymore. The government has not budgeted funds for procurement of wheat from ISIS areas in its 2015 budget. The coverage of the Public Distribution System for refugees in non-ISIS territory is limited.
Food imports will need to increase at a time when oil prices have declined and more spending is directed towards military and security issues. The food security situation in Iraq is about to get more critical.
The report The Impact of Food Price Volatility and Food Inflation on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries that CIDOB did in October 2014 for the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), can be downloaded here.