The Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region consists of 19 low and middle-income countries, spanning an area of 1100 million hectares on predominantly arid and semi-arid land, from Iran to Morocco. This area supports a population of 296 million people, of which approximately 28.4 percent (84 million) are dependent on agriculture, including livestock farming.
Scarce arable land and limited water have proven increasingly detrimental to food production in the MENA region. As a result of an inadequate supply of land and water, many MENA countries have become heavily dependent upon imported agricultural products. These challenges are becoming increasingly difficult for agriculture producers to manage and are forecast to get much worse with the continuing environmental degradation linked to climate change.
The transformation to sustainable food systems is an urgent task and we don’t have a lot of time.Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment
- Over the past two decades, net agricultural imports in the MENA region have ranged between US$16 billion and US$20 billion. Some MENA countries import up to 85% of their food.
- Nowhere else on earth is the water crisis more acute than in the MENA region. More than 30% of the MENA population lives in an area that lacks sufficient renewable water resources to sustain crop production.
- MENA’s cultivated land use is expected to continue expanding, reaching 82 percent of the area’s maximum utilization potential by 2030. This level of expansion is unsustainable.
To prevent the region’s limited agricultural land from becoming unsuitable for cultivating crops and further threaten food security in the area, innovations in agriculture technology (AgTech) are being introduced to improve efficiency and production, and reduce the MENA region’s dependency on food imports. In addition to introducing technology and innovations, countries in the region are beginning to direct their agriculture water resources to more value-added crops, like fruit, vegetables, and herbs grown in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facilities.
Get the Indoor Farming Solutions to Agriculture Challenges in the MENA Region report to learn how producers are making strategic investments into cutting-edge indoor farming methods and implementing advanced technologies that are highly-responsive to land and water scarcity, and the area’s changing climate.
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