I usually start to worry when I find myself agreeing with the World Bank. A couple of days ago, they exposed again the blatant Israeli discrimination in access to water between Palestinians and Israelis, right in time for Durban 2. Today I found a very good interview with the lead of rural development in the Bank. He makes a couple of excellent points, for example:
"There is significant danger of focusing only on agriculture rather than a more integrated rural development that enables people to secure good productive jobs in agriculture as well as in other sectors. Ironically, part of the key to developing a vibrant agriculture sector will be making investments that help people do things other than agriculture. This way labor productivity increases in agriculture and standards of living in rural space improve. The other key concern that needs to be addressed is exposure to volatile food prices on international markets. There is no way around the reality that MENA countries will need to buy a significant – and increasing – share of their food on international markets. The key is to manage this exposure in new and innovative ways to reduce the potential for food prices shocks without going bankrupt in the process."
"Where markets are not working or too small, there may be strong arguments for public intervention. A good example is the grain storage business. There are strong arguments for this being in the hands of either the public or the private sector. But what’s important is to look at the full picture. If there’s enough competition in the private sector, then it probably makes sense to put it there. If it’s in the hands of the public sector, then the thing to focus on is the efficiency of operations and governance."
The web page also contains links to good articles on Food security in MENA.