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MENA region on the road towards self sufficiency

MENA region on the road towards self sufficiency

Livestock production is undergoing steady growth in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Many countries are on the road toward enhancing their self-sufficiency. Limited availability of fresh water is a serious concern however. The answer will come from advanced technology and proper breeding, feeding and health.

By Ad Bal

For many years, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has been importing a substantial volume of agricultural products. In the poultry business, day old chicks and hatching eggs were imported to a large extent and raised locally. But change is in process now, as local production is increasing substantially. Many countries are in the process of enhancing food security and as a result moving toward self-sufficiency. Such a country is Saudi Arabia, which is the most populous in the region (65% of the total Gulf Corporation Council population) and with that the largest food consumer among the GCC countries. Saudi Arabia accounts for 59% of total GCC food consumption. About 80% of all food is imported, according to a recent report of the agricultural counsellor of The Netherlands in Saudi Arabia.

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Domestic poultry production is in an upswing in the entire MENA region

This holds true for other countries as well in the MENA region. Logically, domestic poultry production is in an upswing in most of those countries.  A market analysis of Rabobank shows that, during the period 2000 -2020, Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for products from animal origin accounts for by around 3,5 percent on average. Poultry was and is still by far the strongest driver in all related countries. However, there are big differences in per capita consumption. According to Rabobank, the fastest growth in poultry is expected in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. An additional challenge for Egypt in particular, is to making the change from live bird markets to fully integrated professional poultry farming, including marketing through modern outlets.  

Not just in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, most other countries in the MENA region, will gradually shift towards more advanced housing and processing systems, both in broiler as well as in table egg production. With that, also valuable parent stock is kept locally on professional farms and integrations. For that reason, according to Rabobank, along with this shift to further professionalisation throughout the region, there will be an increased need for skilled personnel on these modern farms. This includes an increased awareness for high biosecurity standards.

Massive dairy farms
Not just chicken is a strong driver in animal production throughout the MENA region, also dairy plays a major role. 

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Large dairy operations are found across the MENA region, with Saudi Arabia taking the lead

Large dairy operations are found across the MENA region, with again Saudi Arabia taking the lead. By far the biggest company is Almarai, representing around 28% of total dairy cattle population in the country, kept on six super farms. Almarai’s total milk output amounted to 1.5 billion litres in 2017 (up 22% over 2015). Such figures reflect the professional status of the dairy sector.

Further growth of the dairy sector...

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