Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Improvement of Major Production System of the Arabian Peninsula 2000-2005_Final Report
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Communication Team ICARDA. (1/1/2007). Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Improvement of Major Production System of the Arabian Peninsula 2000-2005_Final Report. Lebanon: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
The Arabian Peninsula is characterized by extreme aridity and limited renewable water resources. Rapid economic development in the latter half of the 20th century led to significant changes to the traditional agricultural systems of the Peninsula, with major implications for the sustainability of the natural resource base. Water demand greatly exceeds the available renewable water supply, and is met mainly from non renewable ground water and desalinated water. Irrigation is by far the largest user of water in the Peninsula. Continued use of non-renewable ground water for irrigation to meet agricultural production targets has led to declining ground water levels and salt intrusion in coastal areas. Greater water-use efficiency in irrigated agriculture would therefore have a major impact on water conservation. Rangelands have been encroached for urban expansion or cultivation, or have degraded to unproductive levels due to overgrazing. This has resulted in the loss of indigenous plant species, low rangeland productivity and increased soil erosion. Indigenous rangeland plants, adapted to the harsh arid environment, are a valuable genetic resource of great economic value, not only to the peninsula but also to other parts of the world. Protected Agriculture (PA) seems an ideal system of production in the Arabian Peninsula, given the constraints of land and water. PA can significantly reduce the use of water, fertilizer and other chemicals required to produce high-value crops. As such it plays an important role in supplying the region’s markets with fresh and healthy products that cannot be grown otherwise.