Socio-Economic Considerations of Salinity: Descriptive Statistics of the Iraq Sampled Farms
This paper is aimed to obtain an understanding of the impacts of salinity on agriculture production, the livelihood options of farmers and responses to technologies available to cope with the salinity problem; Mussayeb, Dujaila and Abu Al-Khaseeb are chosen to conduct a socioeconomic analysis. Although descriptive analysis of the field survey indicates that these areas suffer from salinity to different extent, some farmers were unable to form any opinion regarding salinity, causes and solutions. Farmers mentioned that land reclamation as the best solution to salinity. Results of Descriptive analysis showed farmers stated they preferred to construct drainage net, maintenance of the existence one, and have an increase in the water supply, etc The analysis of income source indicates that agriculture contribute for about 96 percent in the household income in Mussayeb, 98 percent in Dujaila and only 69 percent in Abul-Khasseb where the off farm income source contribute for about 31 percent. It is important to indicate that livestock production have an important contribution in of farm income. Salinity control score using the Tobit model is applied in this paper. This model measures not only the probability to reduce salinity but also the degree of this reduction. Empirical findings shown that education level, experience of farmer are signed positively and significant. This implies that such variables are determinants on the attitude of farmers to reduce salinity in Mussayeb. However, the age had a negative relationship which indicates that when the age of farmer is higher, the efforts on control methods to reduce salinity are lower. Further, farming experience is important in family labor efforts to control salinity. Salinity control efforts by farmers are also significantly affected positively by farming experience and negatively by the education level in Abul-Khasseb area. This implies that along with training and education, subsidies for controlling measures for poorer farmers, is also very important taking into account this results. The poor farmers are mostly affected by soil salinity but they cannot and do not invest on controlling measures. The abandonment of any piece of land due to salinity will have serious impact on their living. Marginal value of gross-margin enhancing factors and marginal value of damage due to soil is calculated as the difference between TGMC in the salinity affected area and TGMC for the salinity free area. Results indicated a significant decrease in the total gross margin of crops for about 20% per hectare in the salinity affected area of Mussayeb and Dujaila. The same magnitude happened with total variable cost for both areas. These results clearly demonstrate that soil salinity is expected to be the major determinant in influencing the crops yield in Mussayeb and Dujailah. From another side, among the gross margin increasing factors, only the coefficients of labor and irrigation in Mussayeb, the coefficient of labor in Dujaila and the coefficient of mechanization in Abul-Khasseb were not significant. The production elasticity of fertilizer was very high in Mussayeb and Dujaila compared with Abul-Khasseb. Due to the more saline condition in Dujaila and Abul-Khasseb sites, fertilizer can have an inhibitory effect on crop yield. Therefore, fertilizer use on saline soils should be reduced accordingly. It was relevant that higher amounts of fertilizers is used in the free saline areas compared to high salinity areas, and very low level of fertilizers is applied in highly saline areas (Dujaila). The seeds cost that reflects the change of varieties and the seeding rate because of changing soil environment is significant in Mussayeb and Abul-Khasseb. The higher significance of elasticity coefficients for chemicals in Mussayeb, mechanization in Dujaila and labor and irrigation in Abul-Khasseb indicated that crop yield (i.e; the gross margin) would increase by using additional capital (machinery use) and labor and water in these areas. According to these results and different levels of salinity, appropriate measures can be taken to sustain the crop yield in these areas. In soil free areas, using corrective fertilizer application and other inputs can compensate the salinity effect. However, in the high salinity areas where salinity overpowered the positive response of all yield (gross margin)-enhancing factors, it seems that no much can be done to neutralize the effect of soil salinity by raising the quantities of these factors. The limitation of resource use could generate further a lowered yield in these areas.