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US$ 9 billion food bill weighs heavily on GCC trade balance

by 5m Editor
5 February 2007, at 10:53am

DUBAI - The collective annual food bill for the GCC region alone in 2004 was estimated to be close to US$ 9 billion and with the region’s population approaching 40 million and set to double over the next ten years that could amount to an annual food bill of over US$ 20 billion.

Recognising the business opportunities in agriculture, IIR Middle East has launched AGRA Middle East exhibition, which is being held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) from 17-19 April 2007.

To address this issue, the GCC has set ambitious targets to substantially develop the agricultural sector by 2010 and an investment of billions of dollars has been earmarked to meet the projected increase in future demand, with Saudi Arabia alone planning to spend over US$ 6.6 billion (SR 24.8 billion) in water, agriculture and infrastructure sectors during 2007.

However import costs could rise further still if as expected the US Dollar weakens as America struggles to reduce its trillion dollar budget deficit and GCC central banks do not realign their currencies against the ‘greenback’, heightening concerns over inflation.

”These developments present immeasurable opportunities for agriculture and food related manufacturers, suppliers and technologists to develop significant business opportunities throughout the region,” commented Michael Hanlon, Exhibition Manager for AGRA Middle East show at IIR Middle East.

Established for over 10 years, AGRA Middle East is a proven networking platform that greatly contributes to the region's economy by playing a crucial role in promoting and networking the varied trade activities of the region's burgeoning markets. The show presents a focus on crop cultivation technologies & machinery, farming technologies, landscaping, irrigation systems, greenhouses, horticulture, fertilizers & agrochemicals, agriculture & garden tools, fencing and related agricultural activities.

The Middle East is regarded as a significant regional market for many food products. A major part of the region’s requirements is met through imports due to the unsuitable climate, limited water resources and uncultivable soil conditions. The region is now building indigenous production capabilities to address the rising demands by acquiring modern technologies, equipment and expertise and thereby shifting the investment trends towards the development of the agricultural sector.

The 2007 edition of AGRA Middle East Exhibition will also feature the latest scientific developments in laboratory processes, pest control and biotechnologies, making this exhibition a 'must see' event for all industry participants.

Running concurrently with AGRA Middle East are four distinct, yet closely linked, industrial sectors that have been drawn together to create one comprehensive and power-packed platform. The event will showcase the latest advances in Agriculture & Irrigation, Animal Husbandry & Poultry Farming, Floriculture & Horticulture plus Fisheries & Aquaculture.

“By bringing the closely aligned industrial sectors together, the exhibition facilitates the buying needs of those industry stakeholders, who are continuously searching for the latest innovations and developments as well as massive investment opportunities. These groups and individuals represent the buying power of one of the world's fastest growing markets,” added Michael.

The AGRA Middle East exhibition has attracted confirmed participation from international agribusiness leaders including Cargill, Alltech, Chore Time Systems and ZAGRO. Moreover, the exhibition has gained key support from regional players and institutional groups like Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and development (AAAID), Egyptian Agribusiness Association and Malaysian Fisheries Department.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

5m Editor