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Agriculture in the Middle East

Agriculture in the Middle East
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In the Middle East, agriculture is the largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product and foreign exchange, and is the second largest employer. Yet despite its economic importance it is largely overlooked in the development of new technologies and in the allocation of trained human resources. The Middle East produces less than half of the food and agro-industrial products it consumes. Agriculture in the Middle East focuses on new ways to improve food production, the challenges of a largely arid land, and managing limited agricultural resources.

Large areas of the geopolitically vital Middle East are immensely rich in natural resources. One country alone, Saudi Arabia, possesses nearly one-fourth of the world’s total oil reserves.

Yet most Middle Eastern countries are highly dependent on food from abroad. With the exception of Israel, agriculture in the region remains undeveloped. This results in an enormous cost. The region’s food import bill in 1984 came to $22.5 billion. Dr. Edouard Saouma, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in his Foreword to this volume, states that the Middle East produces less than half of its food requirements.

To seek solutions to these problems which threaten the stability and prosperity of the entire region, Agriculture in the Middle East presents a collection of essays by distinguished Middle Eastern scholars and experts.

Part I of this volume addresses the problem of limited water and its constraints on agriculture in the region, which is largely and and semi arid. The emphasis of this section is on challenging and optimizing limitations and exploring new possibilities with irrigation and water conveyor projects. Part II examines agricultural production, both crops and livestock. In the chapter on feedstuff and wheat production in Arab countries, attention is called to the need for attracting larger numbers of skilled workers to the agricultural sector, as well as the need for dealing with the irregular yearly rainfall in semi-arid zones, upgrading the use of fertilizers and herbicides and for improving the use of farm machinery.

Part III presents an analysis of the gap between food production and consumption in the region. Dr. Mohammed Akacem, senior economist at the Research and Economic Studies Department of the Saudi Development Fund, uses his chapter to describe the devastating cost of Arab food imports. Part IV discusses some agricultural development programs. Dr. Munther Haddadin, President of the Jordan Valley Authority, makes a case for an integrated approach for rural development of the Jordan Valley. Dr. Hamid Mohammed Hussain, an advisor to Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture, details his country’s unique land use program.

Part V examines food production in the Middle East and its impact on the environment. Authorities analyze development of saline irrigation in the Negev, as well as forestry in Cyprus as it affects animal husbandry, rational land use and socioeconomic programs in the region. Leontios Leontiades, Director of the Department of Forests of the Ministry of Agriculture in Nicosia, Cyprus, notes that, throughout the region, “in the centuries-old competition for land, agriculture and animal husbandry have always had the upper hand with the result that big areas of land which had formerly carried a forest crop subsequently gave way to agriculture and grazing.” Leontiades adds that today we finally realize the dangers these practices pose to the environment.

For all who are concerned with balancing ecological needs with food production in a vitally important region of the world, Agriculture in the Middle East is an indispensable work.

Table of Contents Introduction Munther Haddadin

Part I Water Resources: A Constraint on Agricultural Development
Water Resources and Irrigation in the Middle East: Limitations and Prospects Muin Baasiri
Optimizing Limited Resources: Cyprus’ Southern Conveyor Water Development Project C.A.Christodoulou
Challenging the Limits of Irrigation: The Great Man-Made River Project and Its Prospective Impact on Libya Mahmud Gusbi

Part II Agricultural Production: Its Status and Potential in Select Areas
Wheat and Feedstuff Production in Semi-Arid Zones of Arab Countries Mohammed El-Khash
The Potential for Animal Production in Arid Zones, with Special Reference to Kuwait Adel Salman and Faisal Taha
Development of Agricultural Production through De-desertification and Land Reclamation: The Case of Egypt Ahmed Abdel-Samie
An Analysis of the Dryland Sector and Food Policy in Jordan Haitham Hourani

Part III The Food Production-Consumption Gap
Issues of Good Security in the Arab Countries Subhi Qasem
The Cost of Arab Food Imports Mohammed Ahacem
The Development and Prospects of Agro-Industries in Turkey Demir Demirgil
Financing Agricultural Development: Government versus Private Investment Abdulaziz Y. Saqqaf

Part IV Problems Confronting Agricultural Development
Rural Development of the Jordan Valley: The Case for an Integrated Agricultural Approach Munther Haddidin
Iraq’s Agriculture Land Use Program Hamid Hussain

Part V Prospects and Potentials for Agriculture and Food Production
Mechanization: Its Impact and Potential Nassir Sabah
Protected Cultivation in the Middle East: A Promising Future Adnan Badran
Exploiting the Desert: Saline Irrigation in the Negev Dov Pasternak and Yoel De Malach
Developing Forestry under Middle East Conditions: The Cyprus Experience Leontios Leontiades
Developing Markets: The Experience of Greece as a Bridge Between the Arab Countries and the EEC Xenophon Verginis