The Peninsula | 12/27/2009
DOHA: Qatar is one of the leading investors in the agricultural sector in Sudan, says a former minister of irrigation of Egypt.
Mahmoud Abu Zaid is currently chairman of Arab Water Council. The Arab world is rich in water resources and agriculture. It’s lands are fertile. This is especially true of Sudan which is indeed the food basket of the Arab world.
Such resources are in need of capital-intensive investment as well as management. So the government and the private sector have already begun setting up food growing and processing projects in Sudan.
The investors in Sudan, which are commercial entities and not individuals, are all from Arab countries. Qatar has the largest investment in Sudan’s agricultural sector besides having investment in other areas of economy.
Other GCC states which have sizeable presence in Sudan through their investments in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Abu Zaid said in Cairo that there is the need to support the private sector by providing the necessary political backing to protect and encourage investments.
He pointed out that the Arab world is the largest importer of food in the world and is so affected by international food price fluctuations.
Speaking about water, he said that 80 percent of water requirements of the Arab world is sourced from other countries.
A good example is the Nile which is the longest river in the world but its source is from the Victorian lake and Ethiopian highlands.
Also, the water available to Syria and Iraq are sourced from Turkey. So Abu Zaid said that there is the need to have a strategy in place to preserve and exploit the water resources of the Arab world.
In remarks to Al Sharq correspondent in Cairo, the former Egyptian minister talked of various projects being launched with NASA and World Bank to use satellite images to estimate the water resources of the Arab world for preservation and exploitation.
A number of programmes have been launched to train people in the Arab world in the realm of water management in collaboration with international organizations.Irrigation systems in the Arab is generally outdated so there is a need to modernise them, said Abu Zaid