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Thu 17 Jun 2010 06:57 AM

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MENA agriculture sector faces hit from rising mercury

Experts predict 4 degrees rise by end of 21st century, revenues seen 20% lower.

MENA agriculture sector faces hit from rising mercury

Average temperatures in Middle East and North Africa could rise by four degrees by the end of the 21st century while rainfall is set to decrease by up to 30 percent, causing agricultural revenues to plunge 20 percent, experts are predicting.

The impact that global warming will have on the region is being discussed by specialists from around the world at a World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD)-organised event in France.

The workshop heard that the average temperature in the region could rise by two degrees by 2050, and by four degrees by the end of the century.

Experts also predict that rainfall will decrease by between 20-30 percent by 2050, with a "noticeable increase" in extreme weather phenomena such as floods and droughts.

Saudi Arabia saw 122 people perish in flash floods last year, which sparked a rare media outcry against alleged corruption.

The floods, caused by torrential rain in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, damaged thousands of houses built in dry river beds, and raised questions about the fate of public funds destined for sewage and drainage systems in the city.

According to experts, the increase in temperature in the MENA region could "increase rural depopulation, with considerable economic and social consequences".

Income from agriculture will see a reduction by an average of 20 percent throughout the MENA region, which will at the same time experience a significant growth in population, the World Bank event heard.

They said governments have to anticipate population movements in order to put into place long-term strategies, both on the economic level and in terms of urban and land planning.

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