The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and the Food Security Program hosted a lecture on “Food Security in the Middle East: Role of the Private Sector” led by Dr. Turki Al Rasheed.
During the lecture, Dr. Al Rasheed discussed the work of Golden Grass Inc., and the private sector in achieving food security. He focused on social agriculture as one of the most effective tools to enhance food security, alleviate poverty, and promote economic growth. In his view, social agriculture can reduce the depopulation of rural areas, alleviated poverty, provide job opportunities, and enable villagers to have a healthy lifestyle and better standard of living. The pathway for achieving social agriculture requires strategic management capabilities within the public sector that takes into account the sustainability triple bottom line. Dr. Al-Rasheed highlighted that the American University of Beirut is a proper place to invest given its well-qualified human capital.
Dr. Al-Rasheed also discussed the lack of investment in agricultural sector over decades, which has been identified as an important underlying cause of the recent food crisis and the difficulties that developing countries encountered in dealing with it. He argued that agricultural investments (sometimes termed 'land-grabs') should not be rejected in principle, although there are risks for the host developing country: They raise complex and controversial economic, political, institutional, legal and ethical issues in relation to food security, and these must be addressed properly. Closing his lecture, Dr. Al-Rasheed called on governments of the MENA region not to give all the priority to urban areas, but to balance this with rural development.
An audience of approximately 60 individuals attended, including high-level external guests as well as AUB students (graduates and undergraduates), faculty members and staff. Notable attendees included H.E. Minister Plenipotentiary Chargé d'Affaires Waleed Bukhari of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; H.E. Dr. Hamad Al Chamisi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Lebanon; H.E. Nazih Al Najari, Ambassador of Egypt to Lebanon; and Elie Rizk, President of the Lebanese-Saudi Business Development Commission.
Dr. Al Rasheed, Founder and Chairman of Golden Grass, Inc and TFIC, is a leading regional businessman on agriculture and sustainable development and adjunct Professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona. This private agriculture and contracting company was established in 1982 and is the leading exporter of agricultural products in the Middle East and one of the top 100 companies in Saudi Arabia. Its diverse business lines include farming, agrochemicals trade, animal health, environmental health, recruitment, construction and maintenance.