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How are climate change, water scarcity weighing on Iraq’s agriculture?

The Norwegian Refugee Council said farmers are being hurt economically by climate change, and suggested better irrigation techniques and water monitoring technology to improve the sector.
Iraq drought

Water scarcity resulting from climate change is hurting Iraq’s agricultural sector, but better farming practices and government reform could alleviate the situation, according to a leading humanitarian organization.

The Norwegian Refugee Council released a report on Sunday detailing the effects of climate change on farming in federal government territory in Iraq. According to the report:

  • 60% of farmers surveyed in Anbar, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Salahuddin were forced to cultivate less land or use less water during this year’s farming season that ran from October of last year until June.
  • 80% of respondents in Nineveh and Kirkuk had to reduce food expenditure, meaning the amount they spend on food for personal consumption, over the past 12 months.
  • 25% of small-scale farmers in Nineveh’s Sinjar and Ba’aj had to give up farming this year.

Part of the struggle faced in Iraq's faming industry is due to low water levels. Iraq’s struggle with climate change has been widely reported, and the country is regularly described as one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Rising temperature and declining rainfall in the past four years have led to drought and reduced water levels in the Tigris and Eurphrates rivers. The country's strategic water reserves are at their lowest point in nearly a century, Ministry of Water Resources spokesperson Khaled Shamal told Agence France-Presse in August. 

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