Food security in Bahrain

Analysis of food security in Bahrain

Food security, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is the provision of food to all members of society in the quantity and quality necessary to meet their needs on an ongoing basis, with the aim of achieving a healthy and active life. Achieving sustainable food security has been a major challenge over the decades, as a result of multiple factors such as political instability, desertification of arable land, water scarcity, environmental degradation, and other factors.

The negative factors referred to contributed to the occurrence of famines affecting more than a billion people around the world. Food security is linked to the agriculture and fishing sectors, and limited production in these sectors appears as a prominent feature in the Kingdom of Bahrain. According to the 2020 World Food Security Ranking, the Kingdom of Bahrain ranked 49th in the world out of 113 countries. The Kingdom of Bahrain achieves distinguished rankings in various indicators, as it ranked 35th globally in food affordability, 64th in food availability, and 44th in food quality. On the other hand, it ranked 111th in terms of its natural resources and its ability to sustain and endure.

We will now analyze the agriculture and fisheries sectors in Bahrain, as they are considered essential elements in ensuring food security

Fish and livestock sector:

The limited production of agriculture and fishing in the Kingdom constitutes one of the prominent features of this sector. These two sectors (fisheries and agriculture) are considered among the most important main sectors contributing to providing food security in the Kingdom. The following table shows the gross domestic product at constant prices and the growth rates of the agriculture and fishing sector at constant prices. :

the year gross domestic product (at fixed prices) Growth rate of output from the agricultural and fishing sector (at fixed prices)
2018 9731.6 7.30%
2019 9593.3 9.13%
2020 8607.9 8.99%
2021 9011.4 10.24%

From the previous table, we find that the gross domestic product at constant prices is increasing, but it declined in 2020 as a result of the Corona pandemic, then it increased. We find that the growth rate of the agricultural and fish sector is increasing, but it was also affected by the Corona pandemic in 2020, then the percentage increased again in 2021. .

The Kingdom of Bahrain is witnessing many pioneering development initiatives, which represent joint efforts from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture, with the aim of supporting and strengthening the agricultural and fisheries sectors. These key initiatives include:

Encouraging investment in agriculture and agricultural projects: Granting white land property owners special privileges, such as reduced government fees for services, with the aim of attracting investment in agriculture.

Proper use of lands registered as endowments: Promoting optimal utilization of lands registered as endowments to promote agricultural development.

Providing financing and financial support: Providing financing in the form of loans, subsidies, and exemption from agricultural and livestock tariffs and taxes.

Development of agricultural laboratories: Promoting modernization and developing agricultural laboratories to support farmers

Strengthening the marketing process for farmers: Supporting permanent and seasonal farmers’ markets to improve marketing processes and marketing of agricultural products.

Regarding the development of the fisheries sector, the initiatives are:

  • Inviting the private sector to invest in fish farming projects.
  • Launching a training program in cooperation with Tamkeen to qualify Bahrainis in the field of fish farming.
  • Providing designated sites for fish farming and supporting sustainable farming.
  • Establishing a fish farm in the Southern Governorate in cooperation with the National Aquaculture Center in Ras Hayyan.
  • These initiatives respond to the challenges of achieving food security and enhancing sustainability in the agricultural and fisheries sectors in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Food security indicators in Bahrain:

The Kingdom of Bahrain enjoys a good level of food security despite the modest productivity of the agricultural and fisheries sectors and their limited contribution to the GDP.
This is because they are able to meet their nutritional needs in part through global markets. Food security indicators by the Economist Intelligence Unit assess the ability of countries to meet their basic food needs or import them in a variety of circumstances and at any high levels, both domestically and globally.

The index is based on four main criteria:

  • Ability to afford food.
  • Food availability.
  • Quality safety.
  • Natural resources and adaptation, identifying the country's vulnerability to climate change and natural resource risks and how to adapt to these risks.

According to the Global Food Security Index, the Kingdom of Bahrain ranked 50th out of 113 countries with a score of 66.6, which is higher than the global average of 62.9. Regarding food affordability indicators, the Kingdom ranked 26th globally with a score of 81.5, reflecting strong sustainability in this area. On the other hand, the Kingdom needs to improve indicators of food availability, food quality and safety. Focuses on developing standards for nutrition and diets to promote greater sustainability.

Food security strategy in Bahrain:

The Kingdom of Bahrain has developed an integrated strategy for food security management that focuses on four basic pillars:

Developing national capabilities in the field of food industries: Focus on enhancing competencies and skills in the food industry to improve production and quality.

Increasing the proportion of local production: Strengthening local agricultural production to reduce the country's dependence on food imports.

Maintaining the expertise of professionals: Support and enhance the participation of professional labor in the agricultural sector to ensure continuity of knowledge and experience.


Achieving social and economic development: Contributing to improving the economic and social situation by creating job opportunities and a stable income for families working in agriculture.

Achieving environmental development: Increasing green spaces and preserving natural water resources to improve the environment.

Achieving economic development: Achieving appropriate levels of food security to enhance the agricultural contribution to the gross domestic product and achieve optimal exploitation of agricultural land.

Regarding vision and goal:

Vision: The strategy focuses on social, economic and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on confronting the challenges associated with climate change and global social, economic and political variables.

the goal: Ensuring the provision of sufficient, safe and nutritious food in a sustainable manner to all citizens and residents of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and meeting their nutritional needs and preferences to achieve an active and healthy life.

Food security challenges in the Kingdom of Bahrain:

The Kingdom of Bahrain faces major challenges in the field of food security due to its heavy reliance on food imports, as imports represent about 90% of its food needs. Challenging factors include:

Environmental, climatic, economic and social risks: The impact of disturbances in these aspects on the stability of food supplies.

Lack of local natural resources: Lack of water, low rainfall, and environmental challenges reduce available agricultural land.

Agricultural technology transformation: Difficulties in transferring and adopting modern agricultural technologies.

Investment and trade policies: The need to deal with policy issues affecting agricultural investments and trade.

Population increase and food waste: Challenges related to increasing demand for food and the need to deal with food waste.

To address these challenges, the Kingdom established the Food Security Support Council with goals that include developing a national program to support food security, acting as a policy advisory and coordination body, ensuring integration of initiatives, evaluating progress and monitoring future risks. Also, there are multiple initiatives in developing the agricultural and fisheries sectors, by encouraging investment, promoting innovation, and strengthening partnerships with the private sector and international organizations.

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