Co-developing the agriculture and agro-food industries in the Mediterranean
There is no genuine agricultural relationship between north and south Mediterranean. Some production partnerships have been initiated between the two shores, but they fall way short of potential levels. As far as commerce is concerned, southern countries are highly dependent on the outside for food. The implications of this are significant commercial deficits and serious food insecurity. A significant share of food imports (particularly cereal) comes from other regions of the world, to the expense of north Mediterranean production.
Furthermore, rural areas in the southern Mediterranean face grave risks of destabilization, particularly due to water stress. In the south, agriculture still represents a third of total employment, and provides a living for an even larger share of the rural population. The liberalization of agricultural trade within a free trade zone is bound to lead to a significant abandonment of agriculture, due to the considerable production gap between north and south. Any liberalization should be accompanied by measures to reinforce activities in rural areas – in order to prevent an exodus which neither southern cities nor international migration will be able to contain.
This is the subject of current exploration and debate at IPEMED.