84 | Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) Report

Key Messages

1. The trend in population growth will continue, leading to strong increase in demand for food and intensified pressure on natural resources, high rates of unemployment, and increased urbanization and migration. The anticipated increase in urbanization and labor migration will speed up the shift of labor from agriculture to other sectors.

2. Hunger and malnutrition, especially child malnutrition, will continue to worsen, leading to a weakened workforce. The incidence of malaria, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, and water-borne diseases will be on the rise in the region because of a shortage of proper health care.

3. With the increased pace of trade liberalization, agricultural producers will face problems of access to the market and competition in terms of price and quality vis-à-vis industrial countries. New barriers in terms of quality, social standards and intellectual property rights will further limit market access. Countries in the CWANA region have been denied market access for their agricultural output; labor and environmental standards in the multilateral trading system are also an obstacle for the region.

4. Although investment and improved management of AKST will proceed at a slow pace, it will have a greater role in agricultural development because of expanded research programs and better relations of research with extension agents and farmers. CWANA will need to improve and develop proper educational systems in agriculture and related sciences and reverse the trend of downgrading agriculture as an engine of development.

5. Indigenous knowledge will continue to lose ground to new technologies. Transgenics will continue to be a source of controversy because of cultural and traditional beliefs.

6. Good governance, democratization, decentralization and other sociopolitical reforms can remove stumbling blocks and speed up development. Pressures from globalization can contribute to adoption of democratic thinking in some countries, consequently reducing corruption in developing economies.

7. There is room for improvement in coordination at all levels-public, private and civil society-to facilitate development. Better coordination and collaboration will enhance development objectives, especially poverty alleviation and amelioration of hunger.

8. Despite the substantial role of women in agriculture, they will continue to have limited authority and ownership of resources such as land, labor, credit or capital. Nevertheless, through higher education for women and change in attitude, society will develop institutions of governance, legal systems and policies that are socially aware and gender sensitive, which will decrease the disparities between women and men.  


9. Natural resources will face severe degradation and unsustainable productivity as a result of intensified exploitation. Increasing land degradation will limit the ability of agricultural systems to provide food security for the region. However, alternative scenarios show that there will be other options for improving the positive role of agriculture by minimizing its negative environmental effects.

10. Agrobiodiversity will continue to be endangered and many plant and animal species will be lost for various reasons. This will adversely affect food production and food security.

11. Use of agrochemicals will increase because of an expansion of intensive agriculture, which will lead to increased risk of pollution and adverse effects on human health. Nonetheless, increased awareness and modern AKST options for pest control, i.e., IPM, will strengthen the regulatory control of pesticide application at the regional level.

12. Water will continue to be the most limiting factor for agriculture because of competition from other sectors and more frequent droughts in the region. Water quality will also be at risk because ground water has been overdrawn and surface sources have been polluted.

13. Agriculture will be severely and adversely affected by climate change, especially in low-income regions. Developments in AKST will determine the ability of agricultural systems to respond to the consequent results of climate change.

14. Higher energy prices could encourage the use of more energy-efficient technologies in agricultural production. 15. Indicators show that agriculture may become an important producer of bioenergy. However, in the CWANA region, the issue of bioenergy is controversial and unpredictable because of its link to food production and biodiversity.

3.1 Introduction and Scope

This chapter builds on the major issues and challenges identified in chapter 2 and projects the corresponding future status. In other words, it explores a plausible future of the CWANA region, perceived for the next 50 years, in the short, medium and long term, and in this context takes the reference world scenario (i.e., business-as-usual) outlining plausible futures as a benchmark and adds value while prospecting the situation 50 years ahead. With this backdrop, the present scenario has a logical plot and narrative storyline-the manner in which events unfold over the next five decades. To this end, the scenario draws heavily upon the existing body of knowledge and learns from the historical analysis of trends, in qualitative terms. Although the scenario is not prescriptive in nature, it suggests the most likely outcomes for CWANA and agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST) in the region (World Bank, 2006b).