cultivation of a wide range of mostly permanent crops, but the specific crops preferred depend on geography, climate, slope, terracing and water regime. A significant crop area, mainly rice, is irrigated from local streams and rivers. Livestock production is important in most farm livelihoods. The area has 52 million large and 49 million small ruminants. Livestock contribute draft power, meat, cash income and savings. Off-farm work is an important source of income for many poor households.
Pastoral farming is found in semiarid and arid temperate plains and hills, with fewer than 120 growing days annually. The system is extensive in western China and much of central and northern Mongolia. It covers 321 million ha but has no more than 42 million agricultural people. The cultivated area is just over 12 million ha, with about 20% irrigated in dispersed zones. The system is dominated by transhumant pastoralism, characterized by mixed herds of camels, cattle, sheep and goats extensively grazing native pasture. Irrigated crops include cotton, barley, wheat, pulses, peas, broad beans, potatoes and grapes; sericulture is sometimes practiced. Severe poverty, often triggered by drought or severe winters, with consequent loss of livestock, is common in both pastoral and irrigated areas.
The area of arid farming in western China and southern Mongolia covers about 322 million ha, supporting about 9 million cattle and 59 million small ruminants. Only a little over 1%, less than 4 million ha, is cultivated, of which about two-thirds are irrigated. Some large-scale irrigation is concentrated in the west; pastoralists use scattered, small-area irrigation to supplement their livelihoods. The area has about 24 million people, 17 million of whom are pastoral or agricultural. Apart from these arable areas, the dominant arid areas are used for opportunistic grazing. Poverty is extensive and, especially after droughts, severe.
Except for Australia, most nations in the Pacific are relatively small islands and atolls. On the small islands as on most other small islands, traditional agriculture is agrofor-estry, where trees are planted and protected for their great variety of functions and products, including food. Food or fruit trees and shrubs are most common in permanent village tree groves and intercropped in home gardens. They included a wide range of coconut palms, banana and plantain cultivars, breadfruit, edible pandanus (screw pine) varieties (especially on atolls), fruit trees, nut and seed trees, and kava (a root used for a traditional alkaloid social beverage). Most of these species are aboriginal, pre-European introductions, but some are indigenous.
Atoll islands have among the most infertile soils in the world and almost no surface freshwater sources. Despite inadequate land, soil and water and relatively high populations, atoll societies have developed sophisticated subsistence agroforestry systems based on coconut, breadfruit, pandanus (screw pine), native fig, bananas (on the wetter islands) and giant swamp taro. This pit cultivation uses leaves of salt-tolerant coastal trees and plants as mulch and fertilizer. It is also used for important staple tree crops to ensure their survival in the atoll.
1.2.3 Production constraints
ESAP has rich and diverse natural resources and has assimilated agricultural science and technology to achieve remark-
able agricultural productivity, although many production constraints have presented risks.
188.8.131.52 Degradation of natural resources
Environmental degradation can increase the impact of floods and landslides, just as disasters such as wildfires, droughts and floods can cause serious damage to forests, farmland and livestock. Small-scale measures to increase environmental resilience include social forestry, fish farming, drought-resistant crops and rainwater harvesting. In India, local knowledge of indigenous, hardy seeds has helped farmers recover from the loss of cash crops devastated by drought and pests (IFRCRC, 2004).
Overextraction of groundwater can result in water declining beyond the economic reach of pumping technology. Groundwater depletion is a widespread problem in many areas in the region, especially in the semiarid areas. Poorer farmers are hit the most. When near the sea or in proximity to saline groundwater, overpumped aquifers are prone to saline intrusion. Groundwater quality is also threatened by the application of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that percolate into aquifers. These nonpoint sources of pollution from agricultural activity often take time to become apparent, but their effects can be long lasting, particularly with persistent organic pollutants.
Capture fisheries stagnated or dwindled in most ESAP countries and other world regions. Historically, the vast sea and the lakes, rivers and canals were rich sources of fish. As the human population increased, fish and other fisheries organisms have been heavily exploited for human food. In addition, fishery products have been used as industrial raw materials for producing fish meal.
Unscrupulous application of technology eventually resulted in overfishing and depletion of ocean fish stocks. Despite caution from scientists, many rich marine fishing grounds all over the world have been excessively exploited for years. Aquatic habitat change or destruction from massive construction of embankments for flood control, drainage, irrigation, temporary damming of rivers, excessive surface water withdrawal, aquatic pollution from pesticides, indiscriminate release of industrial effluent and unplanned construction of rural roads and culverts that obstructed fish movement have all contributed to the destruction of fisheries.
184.108.40.206 Natural hazards
Natural disasters are grouped in three specific categories: hydrometeorological disasters, including floods, wave surges, storms, droughts, extreme temperatures, forest and scrub fires, landslides and avalanches; geophysical disasters, divided into earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions; and biological disasters, covering epidemics and insect infestations. ESAP suffers frequent natural disasters with considerable human and economic loss. The most recent and dramatic natural disaster, which caught the world's attention and empathy, was the 2004 tsunami. Since 2000, the region has suffered major earthquakes, floods, tsunami and pestilence. "Both hydrometeorological and geophysical disasters have become more common, becoming respectively 68 and 62% more frequent over the decade. This reflects longer-term trends. However, weather-related disasters still