In the Middle East and North Africa, for instance, climate change will exacerbate pressures on the region’s dwindling water supplies – per capita renewable water resources are predicted to drop from 1100 m3 per year to 550 m3 per year by 2050.
For agriculture and food production this means declining productivity, shorter growing seasons, and less cultivable land. If temperatures rise by 4 °C, as some models predict, vast swathes of the dry areas would see their growing seasons cut by more than 20%.
Lower productivity will exacerbate import dependence. The Near East and North Africa are already the world’s highest food deficit regions, and the Middle East currently imports approximately USD 35 million of food annually – a figure that could rise to 70 billion USD over the next two decades as climate change impacts yields and the region’s population rises. Dependence is also a growing issue in other regions with vast arid and semi-arid areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.
These trends threaten to substantially increase food insecurity: the dry areas worldwide are home to some 2.5 billion people – 80% of whom struggle to get by on less than 2 USD per day – and continued dependence on costly food imports will expose ordinary people, particularly the poor, to the vagaries of global commodity markets.
Promoting climate-smart solutions
For over four decades ICARDA has been at the forefront of developing practical solutions to help rural communities strengthen their resilience and enhance climate change adaptation. Our approach combines modern science, traditional knowledge, and strategic collaborations with national and international partners. Smart investments will help us to deliver climate-resilient innovations and technologies to more vulnerable communities.
ICARDA’s climate-smart innovations include:
- Climate-resilient crops and livestock that help farmers cope with drought, extreme heat, pests, disease, and other stresses.
- Water-saving technologies and more efficient irrigation regimes that enhance water productivity and guarantee “more crop per drop.”
- Proven agronomic practices that promote the sustainable management of natural resources such as conservation agriculture.
- Integrated crop–livestock farming systems that cushion each sector from external pressures and generate maximum effects from a symbiosis of both.
- Promoting sustainable value chains and off-farm activities: diversifying production; promoting value-added products; enhancing market access for smallholder farmers; and supporting the viability of alternative livelihoods.
- Capacity development: equipping farmers, communities, and institutions with the knowledge and experience to transform agricultural development and strengthen resilience.
A vital resource for global food security
ICARDA’s decentralized gene bank architecture offers enhanced safety, improved access, and more efficient distribution of genetic resources – the building blocks of climate-resilient crops. Gene banks in Morocco and Lebanon hold in trust one of the world’s largest and most unique collections of landraces and wild relatives, with over 154,000 different samples of major winter-sown cereals, food legumes, forage, and rangeland species.
Heat-tolerant wheat thrives in sub-Saharan Africa
Climate-resilient wheat varieties are yielding 4–6 tonnes per hectare despite temperatures exceeding 40 °C in sub-Saharan Africa. These varieties offer a solution to the region’s costly wheat imports – currently accounting for 80 % of its needs – and are being disseminated across twelve countries.
Enhancing water harvesting in Sudan
ICARDA and Sudan’s Agricultural Research Corporation implemented a crop–range–livestock production system in the semi-arid region of North Kordofan, which includes water conservation structures that provide supplemental irrigation for rain-dependent crops. The result has been higher yields for sorghum, fodder, gum trees, sunflowers, and maize.