Food security in the Mediterranean region
Cereals - and wheat in particular - are since Antiquity a set of strategic products for agricultural development, food security and agricultural trade in the Mediterranean region. The agricultural economy constitutes one of the main sector in the region. Bread, an essential food product, also displays strong religious and cultural connotations.
Facing important socio-economical, demographical, and geopolitical dynamics, leading to continuous increase in food requirements, most Mediterranean states have become net importers of cereals. In average, two third of the domestic consumption of cereals is covered through purchases on international cereal markets. Egypt is the first wheat importer at the global level.
Arabic Mediterranean countries, from Morocco to Syria, while accounting for only 3% of the world's population, have represented, in average, for each harvest campaign since the start of the 21st century, around 15 to 17% of the world imports of cereals, and between 17 and 20% of wheat in particular. The evolution of the prices of these essential food products, the securization of exchanges (both in terms of quality and quantity), are top-ranking preoccupations for the public authorities, but also for the populations, whom are very sensitive to the slightest increase in cereal prices. UN projections indicate that MENA countries will remain in the horizon 2050, the region of the world that is most dependent on cereals imports, with a deficit that could reach 114 million tons (against 75 mln currently).