Therefore, the agricultural sector is concentrated in a considerably small area, which include: river valleys and oases in desert climate; pastoralist agriculture, i.e., pasture in the steppe climate; and agriculture in the Mediterranean and climate, where it is rainy.
The agriculture in the region is making use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers as well as the flooding technique of irrigation, which are causing the cultivated land to be desalinated, and, thus, decrease the cultivated lands. Moreover, while traditionally, the farmers in the region used to grow cereals to sustain the local consumption, they are growing now more fruits and vegetables for export which are more profitable for them. These cash crops need a lot of water and do not sustain the needs of the local population. Therefore, the countries in the region need to import cereals from other countries.
Moreover, the development of agriculture in the region has been faced by new challenges, such as: shortage in cultivated lands due to the high population growth and the high density rate; the cost of the development of cultivated lands in desert areas is very expensive; the spread of the cities and the desert into the cultivated lands; and the severe shortage of water. All these challenges create a food security in the region.
In order to deal with the food security challenge the countries of the region have been encouraging the development of new methods of agriculture, which do not need a lot of water on the one hand and which will be able to be practiced also in the desert climates. Such methods, which are very widespread and growing fast throughout the region are organic farming and greenhouse agriculture. Furthermore, new irrigation methods are being introduced, such as drip and micro-irrigation, in order to save water and decrease its use for agriculture.
In addition, biotechnological methods have recently been in use in order to develop crops that will be durable for the desert climate and which will not need much water to grow.
In sum, the agricultural sector is growing fast throughout the region. The development of organic farming, greenhouse farming, traditional farming and biotechnology methods as well as other methods of agriculture that will use not much water and will be durable to climatic changes is top priority in the Middle East and North Africa.
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