A new blueprint that addresses Bahrain’s food security challenges is expected to be approved by the Cabinet in the coming months, revealed a top official.
Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said achieving food self-sufficiency remains high on the government agenda.
Twenty locations have been earmarked for food security projects that focus on hydroponics and aquaculture.
“Bahrain imports 90 per cent of its food supplies and the contribution of agricultural and fishing activities to the GDP has been the same for the past decade,” said Shaikh Khalid.
“Our crucial goal is to ensure food and water supplies and the leadership understands this challenge. It has instructed all government branches and private enterprises to direct capital to food security projects.”
Shaikh Khalid was speaking during the opening of the fourth edition of Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) online forum, under the theme ‘Strategies of achieving food security: Challenges and opportunities’.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic, once again, brought food security into the spotlight and accelerated Bahrain’s efforts to maintain a stockpile of essential items.
“I am happy to announce that we have set up a committee comprising members from the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
“I look forward to the Cabinet approval of a strategy in the second half of the year that encourages decrease in food wastage, better use of agricultural technology and increase in food security.”
The Cabinet has allocated BD2.5 million in the 2021-2022 budget as operating cost for securing strategic stockpiles.
In his remarks, the Deputy Premier spoke about local projects such as fish farms, poultry and egg production.
He said the ministerial committee for infrastructure and projects encourages citizens to pursue careers in the fishing industry.
However, they should have ‘sustainable licences’ and refrain from setting up illegal fishing traps around the kingdom, which will be removed, he said.
“We would like to see Bahrain among the self-sufficient group of nations with relation to food supplies,” he added.
The Global Food Security Index 2019 (GFSI) had ranked Bahrain 50th globally on the list of most food secure nations in the world.
The report, prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, highlighted Bahrain’s food safety programmes – the funding for which was higher than the world average.
“Our aim is to reach the 25th spot by 2030,” said Shaikh Khalid.
Yesterday’s conference featured ministers, MPs, Shura Council members and other senior officials speaking at different sessions.
Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf spoke about increasing the local production of vegetables from 10 per cent to 20pc, local fisheries from 50pc to 62pc and egg production from 90m in 2019 to 120m this year.
“The ministry continues to work on diversifying its food supplies and boost local production of vegetables, fish and poultry,” the minister said.
“We have signed an agreement with FAO to draw up a comprehensive strategy that will support fisheries, eradicate animal diseases and boost local agricultural produce.”
Furthermore, Mr Khalaf said tadpole production had been increased to 1.5 million which will be released in the sea as feed for fish.
He spoke about investment projects, including land allocated in Ras Hayyan for dedicated fish farming projects.
The initiative focuses on local fish, such as hammour, rabbit fish, and different types of sea bream, among others.
The GDN reported that the Cabinet will draft the set-up law for a general authority for food security following its approval by the Shura Council in its final session of the term last month.
The three-day Derasat forum continues today and tomorrow featuring different sessions focusing on regional experiments to ensure food security in the Gulf and the role of international organisations.
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