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Mitigating the impacts of climate change in the dry areas of Iraq and Jordan

Already facing chronic water scarcity and a combination of other severe environmental constraints, the dry areas of the world are likely to be worse hit by climate change over the coming decade. This worrying scenario will threaten the viability of agricultural production, lower farmer incomes, and exacerbate rural poverty – an outcome that is likely to fuel migration and accelerate the pace of urbanization.

Helping farmers to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change is therefore a crucial component of research for development initiatives. This was the focus of a workshop held in Amman late last year, which drew on the expertise of ICARDA and its partners and promoted proven technologies with the potential to help dry area farmers maintain and raise their productivity.

Recommended interventions were mainly developed by an IFAD-funded project, implemented by Jordanian and Iraqi national institutions, which aims to improve the food security and climate change adaptability of livestock producers through rainfed barley-livestock production systems. A multidisciplinary project, the initiative combines a series of components: farming systems, crop improvement, conservation agriculture, and livestock improvement.

A preliminary technical meeting reviewed the successes of the Project, and these positive impacts helped to crystallize thinking on necessary interventions to assist dryland farmers.

Participants offered a number of recommendations to take the initiative forward over the coming year. Project teams were encouraged to consolidate their data, synthesizing this information into publications that could deliver clear messages to researchers and decision makers. The workshop further stressed the need to scale-out successful interventions to farmers in dry areas: capturing water run-off and retaining water from precipitation more effectively; reducing evaporation through conservation agriculture; using cultivars with better drought tolerance; and building small ruminant resilience to heat and other stresses. Proper analysis of shifting weather patterns will also need to be consolidated, thereby guiding researchers and extension officers towards site-specific adaptation practices.     

For more information on the barley-livestock initiative visit: