Agriculture in the Middle East

Generally, we hear about oil crisis and oil rivalries. We have made our assumption that the middle east is one of the regions with the scarcity of water. Irrespective of this condition, Middle East countries are particularly dependent upon agriculture. The population of all 13 countries in the Middle East is around 300 million. Out of this, nearly 25{9a586be35489d685c783cced9f4cadddbfce374e2dde79cbbfc4b417870ee1ff} people are directly related to agro-industry. Out of all countries, Egypt has around 13{9a586be35489d685c783cced9f4cadddbfce374e2dde79cbbfc4b417870ee1ff} contribution to their national economy. Highly developed irrigation along with advanced machinery has resulted in the substantial production of sugar, fruits, and other cash crops.

Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region. In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, and fruits are produced throughout the region, mainly in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Jordan. Egypt is one of the largest rice producer countries with around 6 Million tons of production in recent years. Crop residues are considered as highly used and conventionally important fuel in the middle east. Date palm is one of the most crucial product in regions with water scarcity. Middle East countries have nearly equal to 100 million date palm trees.

Considering water scarcity in Middle East region, irrigation systems have always been an important factor. This is the spark point for the development of different systems leading to efficient and advanced Irrigation Farming System. There are two types of schemes under this i.e. Large Scale Systems and Small Scale Systems. Due to new technologies developed for ground drilling and other pumping technologies, new areas are brought under cropification. They are found in all zones of middle east countries and used for mostly cash crops. This system is also important in perspective of population density. As it is been done on large areas, it draws large crowd resulting in higher population density over the small area of land.

On the other hand, Small Scale Irrigation systems are not frequently used, as they do not cover large surface areas. Excessive use of this systems may lead to soil salinization and groundwater tables.

The other system is conventional irrigation system i.e. Rainfed Mixed Farming System. This almost covers 18-20{9a586be35489d685c783cced9f4cadddbfce374e2dde79cbbfc4b417870ee1ff} of the agricultural population in middle east countries. But, if we see the land occupied by this type, it is only around 3-4{9a586be35489d685c783cced9f4cadddbfce374e2dde79cbbfc4b417870ee1ff}, which makes this system, a higher population density system. Although this is traditional system depending upon rains, the increased use of drilled pumps is helping farmers to cultivate crops even in winter and nor-rain seasons. The main crops in this type of farming are fruits, vegetables, potatoes, flowers etc.

Along with these two, there is a hybrid farming system which uses a mixture of above systems. This hybrid system (Highland Mixed Farming System) is followed by almost 30 million population in middle east countries. The only concern associated with this system is a percentage of poverty associated with it. The regions in which this system is used has very poor infrastructure along with rare markets and degrading natural resources.

Whenever we discuss agro sector, there is a number of other issues associated with it. Agriculture sector directly affects or gets affected by population growth, poverty ratio, climate changes and natural resources. In the next decade, the population of the middle east region is expected to grow double. This means there will be the increased demand for the place, water, and other natural resources. The denser areas of the population will result in more scarcity of water and land. This will be affecting the gross agricultural product.

In recent few years, land under cultivation and cropping capacity, both have increased with same rate i.e 17-19{9a586be35489d685c783cced9f4cadddbfce374e2dde79cbbfc4b417870ee1ff}. This is an indication of the inverse proportion of land and population. As more and more productive land is used for human use, there will be increased difficulties to access cropland.

For conclusion, we can say that, regardless of “The Oil Talks”, there is a major part of the economy which depends on the agriculture background. Majority of population is associated with it. If we look at the rate of consumption of natural resources, the picture is not so good. They are depleting at a very fast rate and need proper attention before any critical situation arises. Technology and science advancements have helped in the enrichment of the crop products. More and more efforts should be made in such direction that, even if water scarcity becomes critical, there won’t be any effect on the net production rate. Last but certainly not the least, the research and analytic approach towards agro system must be materialized. If all efforts unitedly are done in the right direction, there will be fruitful results in coming years.