December 2, 2011
Bahrain to set up US$265-million food security fund
In order to provide food self-sufficiency for Bahrain, the government has teamed up with a local bank to set up a BHD100-million (US$265 million) fund.
Gedha Fund, as the financial resource will be called, will invest in viable projects and technologies in agriculture, dairy farming, fisheries, livestock processing and poultry. It is a joint initiative between the Future Generation Reserve and the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB).
Finance Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said it would help Bahrain in its "march for progress."The fund will focus on medium- to long-term investment in projects within and outside Bahrain that will help the kingdom attain self-sufficiency in food and promote and invest in viable existing companies and projects, enabling them to scale up their activities. It will also promote viable start-up companies and purchase land in overseas countries for captive production. Bahrain is the latest among the Gulf States to actively promote investment in farm lands overseas. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have in recent months announced they will make major investments in foreign agricultural farms to ensure food security for their people.
A model for PPPs "In keeping with the aims and goals outlined in Economic Vision 2030, this fund endeavours to improve Bahrain's food security. We are delighted to partner the NBB in this strategic initiative that will not only address the kingdom's food requirements but will also prove to be a model for more partnerships between the public and private sectors (PPPs)," Sheikh Ahmed said. The minister was speaking at a MoU signing ceremony held at the NBB headquarters in Manama and which was also attended by Future Generation Reserve chairman Farouk Almoayyed and chief executive Mohammed M Al Sulaiti and NBB chief executive Abdul Razak A Hassan Al Qassim. The MoU was signed by Al Qassim and Al Sulaity.
Building housing the offices of the National Bank of Bahrain Commented Al Qassim: "Food is one of the most significant aspects in the progress of any nation. It is imperative that the nation is able to ensure that its citizens have access to enough food at all times. Given the fact that land is at a premium in the country, especially arable land, it is extremely important to ensure that the kingdom is geared to attaining self-sufficiency in food." Added the official: "We at NBB are extremely delighted and proud to be associated with this initiative, which illustrates how we can develop market-based solutions and leverage resources to make a sustainable impact." Al Sulaity said the Future Generation Reserve's partnership with the NBB was designed to address the needs of many of the reserve's most important shareholders."We are pleased to be combining powerful local networks, proven experience in development assistance and strong industry expertise to help create a venture that will positively impact the livelihood of local farmers, address the critical issue of food self-sufficiency and create sustainable business opportunities for the kingdom," he said. "The Gedha Fund will be a closed-ended private equity fund that will be incorporated with limited liability under the laws of Bahrain. It will seek approval of the Central Bank of Bahrain to be registered as an exempt collective investment undertaking."