Dry Areas of the developing world are by definition characterized by persistent water scarcity and commonly suffer from land degradation. Most of the world’s poor live in dry areas, including 400 million ‘poorest of poor’ who survive on less than 1 USD per day. The situation looks likely to become even more severe, specifically for people producing food on the world’s marginal lands.
Almost all global circulation models, and changes experienced over the last 20 years, predict that climate change will hit dry areas hardest, and particularly those in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and West Asia.
Specific projections of these models tend to suggest that climate change will further exacerbate the biophysical and socio-economic stresses that societies in the dry areas must face, and with which their agricultural production systems must contend to ensure food security and livelihoods.
Tapping the potential of drylands agriculture in the face of climate change
Strong agricultural adaptation measures are the key to developing food production in drylands, but these are contingent on policy and financial support. Since agriculture holds so many of the answers to challenges posed by changing weather patterns, it makes sense that this sector, and associated research, take center-stage in climate change negotiations.
Given the complexity of these challenges there is no single ‘silver bullet’ solution for solving the problems faced by dryland agriculturalists. However, there are practical solutions available for increased food security.
This is where ICARDA comes in, testing, validating and disseminating practical solutions that follow an integrated agro-ecosystems approach that involves sustainable natural resource management and inputs, crop and livestock genetic improvement, and enabling policy environments.
Efforts to strengthen food security are two-fold: increasing resilience and sustainable intensification.
In the developing world, where few countries are making significant investments in science and technology for agriculture, the advancement of national food security and nutritional goals are being missed. More has to be done to mobilize greater investments in agricultural research and technology. ICARDA is actively demonstrating the benefits and impacts of agricultural research to decision makers.