It is easy to forget, amidst the violence in so many Middle Eastern countries, that the Arab region will face enormous food security problems unless action is urgently taken.
Only science research and technology transfer can hope to solve this enormous problem, said experts from the International Fund for Agriculture Development.
Lack of water, and degradation of the agricultural land because of climate change are the key threats to the future of the region, said Mahmoud El-Solh, director-general of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.
Besides these problems, transborder diseases – such as the wheat rust, Ug99 – threaten agriculture. But science research and technology transfer cannot play their role unless the politicians are convinced of their necessity.
“We cannot do anything if the politicians do not make serious policy to fight this challenge,” said Hussein Awad, of the West Noubaria Rural Development Project in Egypt.
The Arab region suffers from many problems at all levels, especially from a lack of security caused by political conflict, revolution and an increase in organised crime.
As a science journalist in the Arab world it is difficult to draw the attention of politicians to this. How do we go about this? That is our challenge.
Hichem Boumedjout, SciDev.Net contributor in Algeria