A new tool developed by ICARDA and its partners, The Climate Change and Drought Atlas, promises to help farmers and rural communities in Jordan and Iraq adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change – including widespread water scarcity and increasing levels of drought. The tool was launched as part of an IFAD-funded project targeting improved community awareness about the effects of climate change that facilitates access to new technologies capable of supporting their adaptation.
The project aims to improve awareness of climate change at the policy and community levels; deliver technologies to resource-poor communities; and encourage farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.
Barley-based livestock production systems largely depend upon agricultural production and animal-keeping activities, and sustain some of the poorest segments of the rural population in North Africa and West Asia. Barley farmers are already experiencing problems as a result of climate variability and the increasing incidence of drought. In recent years farmers in both Iraq and Jordan have experienced significant losses during prolonged dry spells.
Areas harvested with barley in Jordan and Iraq suffered significant declines in 2008-9. In the coming decades, climatologists predict more frequent climatic extremes: Longer droughts, more intense storms, and extreme low temperatures that will damage or destroy crops unable to adapt.
The Climate Change and Drought Atlas, launched by HE Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akef Zu’bi, during the initiative’s final workshop, measures the impact climate change on rain-fed and arid lands – providing the information that both Jordan and Iraq need to develop adaptation strategies over the coming years.
The Atlas, which links technologies and practices to a solid foundation of climate change assessment in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) framework, strongly predicts that the region will experience precipitation declines and higher temperatures, and therefore higher crop-water demands, shorter growing periods, and shifts in climatic zones.
The workshop demonstrated the potential technologies needed to raise production and help producers adapt to the negative implications of climate change in dry and very dry areas. Attending the workshop, ICARDA’s Director General, Dr. Mahmoud Solh, outlined some of the interventions required over the coming years: Improved, drought-tolerant barley varieties; innovative farming practices such as conservation agriculture and modified seeding rates; participatory plant breeding schemes; and improved feed and livestock management.
Dr. Mahmoud Solh (left) presenting the Climate Change and Drought Atlas to Jordan’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akef Zu’bi.