Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East
COLLABORATION IS KEY TO SOLVING FOOD SECURITY CHALLENGES: SPEAKERS AT 12TH GPCA AGRI-NUTRIENTS CONFERENCE
Downstream industries in the GCC region are set to play an important role in ensuring food security for the entire world in the near future by ensuring that farmers have access to fertilisers globally, particularly in the wake of ongoing supply disruptions that knocked out a third of the global fertilisers production capacity, according to industry captains.
Officials from the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) say that the agri-nutrient industry is an integral solution provider to food insecurity, and this year’s conference was organised with a view to address how best the industry can support this objective, while at the same time exploring more effective and long-term solutions to address the long term impact of its environmental footprint.
The topic of innovation has made a strong return this year with a number of GCC governments announcing a renewed focus on super charging their innovation strategies. One of these is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which earlier this year announced national priorities for the research, development, and innovation sector in line with Vision 2030.
Kuwait has also demonstrated readiness to embrace innovation, and according to the 2021 Global Innovation Index, it performed above the regional average in infrastructure, knowledge, and technology.
Qatar has also directed significant investments into innovation in line with economic diversification objectives outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030, with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ serving as a catalyst for important projects and investment in R&D and innovation.
Industry experts also presented a variety of thought leadership pieces exploring food security and geopolitics, meeting the fertiliser industry’s sustainability challenges, global food security amid war and climate change, and the importance of reskilling for the future.
Experts gathered at the 12th annual edition of the GPCA Agri-nutrients Conference, which took place on 28-29 September 2022 in Dubai, UAE, with a general consensus that producers from the GCC have the capacity to compensate, to some extent, for the global production loss of fertilisers.
Sanctions against Russia, a key supplier of chemical ingredients, have crippled the production of agri-nutrients in Europe, and because of the increase in the prices of natural gas, a key component for producing fertilisers, other regions are not able to make up for the loss.
Experts are worried that a decline in fertiliser usage because of higher prices or lower availability may seriously impact overall farm output and may trigger a global food crisis.
Availability of fertilisers
Held under the theme ‘Resolving Global Food Challenges with Agri-nutrients’, the conference kicked off on 28 September 2022, with welcome remarks from Abdulrahman Al-suwaidi, CEO, QAFCO and chairman, agrinutrients committee, GPCA.
While speaking at the inauguration, Mohammed Al Nuaimi, assistant undersecretary for the support services sector, ministry of climate change and environment, UAE, highlighted that accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of fertilisers are at the core of food security efforts.
Abdulrahman Shamsaddin, CEO, SABIC Agri-nutrients and vice-chair, Agri-nutrients committee, GPCA, also welcomed delegates for the second and final day of the event.
Dr Abdulwahab Al-sadoun, GPCA secretary general of the GPCA, commented: “The agri-nutrient industry in the region and globally is facing tremendous challenges as well as opportunities to supply vital raw materials to new and existing markets and support food security globally. “At the same time, the industry is coming face to face with a formidable task - to lower its environmental footprint and transition towards a greener, more sustainable products that align with the decarbonisation goals of regional and global economies.”
He added: “The twin challenge of ensuring food security and meeting the world’s sustainability challenges will continue to occupy the minds of business and government leaders for the next decades to come, but I am confident that the industry is well-positioned to support this transition and contribute to global food security as well as net zero targets.”
The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from 26 countries and 84 companies.
GPCA was established in 2006 to represent the downstream hydrocarbon industry in the Arabian Gulf. The association voices the common interests of more than 250 member companies from the chemical and allied industries, accounting for over 95 % of chemical output in the GCC.
The industry makes up the secondlargest manufacturing sector in the region, producing over $108 billion worth of products every year. GPCA supports the petrochemical and chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf through advocacy, networking and thought leadership initiatives aimed at helping member companies to connect, share and advance knowledge, contribute to international dialogue, and become prime influencers in shaping the future of the global petrochemicals industry.
Committed to providing a regional platform for stakeholders from around the world, GPCA manages six working committees - Plastics, Supply Chain, Fertilizers, International Trade, Research and Innovation, and Responsible Care - and organizes six world-class events each year. The association also publishes an annual report, regular newsletters and various other industry reports.