CAIRO – In the midst of a food crisis, the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to rethink their water needs, the New York Times reports. Even oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia have realized that gold cannot always buy blue. This year the kingdom plans to phase out wheat production that overtaxes nearby aquifers.
Farming in the Mideast is both water-intensive and expensive, the Times article highlights. A four-year drought has forced some governments to cut farmers’ quotas. Egypt, a nation whose farming population occupies only 4 percent of the land, is struggling to provide affordable food to its steadily urbanizing populous. Syrian author and social scientist Elie Elhadj argues that “you can bring in money and water and you can make the desert green until either the water runs out or the money.”
With a regional population that has quadrupled in the past seventy years, the area is looking for new, water-sensitive ways to feed the masses. From a solar-powered rice project in Djibouti to a state-of-the-art tomato empire in Israel, scientists, farmers, and businessmen are exploring alternatives.
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Source: New York Times