GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Qatar, East Africa, and Land Purchases: Qatar’s Quest for Enhanced Food Security
Paper Proposal Text :
Summary: This paper investigates the effort by the State of Qatar’s to enhance its national food security by purchasing agricultural lands in many developing countries, particularly in East Africa. The paper will argue that such land purchases, while not widely publicized or discussed, are an important part of the Qatari Government’s overall long-term strategy to provide a reliable and secure source of food for its populace.

Background: With the creation of the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP) in 2008, the State of Qatar officially embarked upon an ambitious program to address a fundamental challenge to the country’s existence. As outlined by the QNFSP,

Given the demographic growth of Qatar, current levels of domestic agricultural output satisfy no more than ten percent of total national food consumption needs. The food supply deficit is met by a substantial volume of imports. High import dependency exposes Qatar to political, sanitary, disease-related, and economic shocks that could occur in supplying countries; leading to a curtailment of food shipments to Qatar with devastating consequences for all residents of Qatar. Import-dependency also subjects Qatar to high import prices and substantial price volatility for virtually all imported commodities.

The Program, as well as other Qatari entities, seek to enhance the country’s food security through a number of projects and initiatives focused on strengthening the country’s domestic agricultural production. The country has, however, also looked beyond its borders to secure predictable and consistent access to food and other agricultural products. Foremost among these efforts are purchases of agricultural lands in East Africa. While Qatar has done little to publicize these purchases and while other Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, are making even larger investments in this area, Qatar is making a significant effort to supplement its food sources through strategic land purchases in such countries as Ethiopia and Sudan. Such purchases mean that Qatar has a growing stake in the domestic policies of many East African states. As such, these purchases have the potential to give Qatar strategic influence over the political and economic policies of these countries which, in turn, could influence the foreign relations between the Gulf and Africa.