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Climate-Smart Agriculture

Near East and North Africa

  • One of the biggest challenges for agriculture in the Near East and North Africa region is water scarcity
  • 85% of all fresh water resources are consumed by agriculture.
  • Internal Renewable Water resources (annual river discharge and groundwater recharge) per capita are less than 1/10 of the global average.
  • 70% of the region’s land area is under desert or arid conditions.
  • Climate change is expected to further aggravate water scarcity and also increase the variability of rainfall patterns. This affects rain-fed crop production that supports 62% of farming households in the region.

FAO’s approach to addressing this problem is the development of a regional water strategy and regional partnerships through the “Near East and North Africa’s Water Scarcity Initiative”. The initiative, in addition to policy and institutional dimensions, focuses on coordinated water management at field, national, basin, and regional levels. It includes sustainable vertical and horizontal expansion of irrigated agriculture, the improvement of irrigation and water harvesting techniques and an increase in the efficiency of water use in crop production.

FAO is also partnering with the League of the Arab States’ agriculture organizations and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) on developing climate-smart adaptation interventions for the green sectors of selected ‘zones’ in the region supported by guidelines and capacity development for improved food and water security in the region. (http://www.escwa.un.org/RICCAR/pubs.asp).

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia

The climate-smart agriculture approach helps to identify appropriate management options and practices that can improve the productivity and resilience of production systems. Options include soil moisture conservation, improved irrigation and crop intensification and diversification. FAO and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the national agriculture systems are working closely to scale-up the adoption of ‘proven climate-smart agriculture field interventions to boost productivity in irrigated and rain fed agriculture’. Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia are the pilot countries for this initiative (FAO article).

Yemen

The climate-smart agriculture approach is being introduced by FAO to Sanaa’s Groundwater Basin through a groundwater management project to reduce excessive groundwater extraction for irrigation. Interventions include water harvesting techniques to increase the water supply and water-saving technology to reduce non-consumptive water use. Practices involve protected agriculture, changes to higher-value or more water-efficient crops, improvements in water management and the use of water from non-conventional water sources (treated wastewater) for irrigation.