Skip to main content

Iraqi farmers pivot to sidr trees amid water crisis

1 min

In the heart of the Middle East, Iraqi farmers face a critical juncture as traditional date palm cultivation becomes untenable due to a severe irrigation crisis.

Sidr trees, with their medium size and evergreen nature, have emerged as a beacon of hope © Mena Today

In the heart of the Middle East, Iraqi farmers face a critical juncture as traditional date palm cultivation becomes untenable due to a severe irrigation crisis. 

Ismail Ibrahim, a local farmer, has found a novel solution to this burgeoning challenge by transitioning to "sidr," or jujube trees, which are far more resilient and require significantly less water.

Iraq, once a lush component of the "Fertile Crescent" that spans from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, has seen its fertile lands ravaged by a combination of factors. Decades of armed conflict, coupled with upstream damming of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and a trend towards lower rainfall, have dramatically altered the agricultural landscape. Farmers like Ibrahim are at the forefront of adapting to these drastic changes to sustain their livelihoods.

Sidr trees, with their medium size and evergreen nature, have emerged as a beacon of hope. Native to the Middle East, these trees thrive with minimal water intake and can even utilize salty groundwater, a significant advantage given the increasing salinity levels affecting traditional crops. Ibrahim notes the swift financial returns of sidr trees, bearing fruit from their second year, unlike palm trees that require at least five years to produce.

The switch to sidr trees underscores a broader issue plaguing Iraqi agriculture: water salinity. For farmers who continue to cultivate date palms, the increased salinity in irrigation water has led to a noticeable decline in quality and yield. Abbas Ali, another local farmer, reflects on the dire consequences of salinity for his palm farm, leading many like him to abandon palm cultivation altogether.

Iraq's journey through years of conflict, from Saddam Hussein's era to the devastation caused by Islamic State militants, has left its economy in shambles. The current water crisis adds another layer of hardship for farmers striving to rebuild their lives and businesses. The transition to sidr cultivation offers a glimmer of hope, a testament to the resilience and adaptability of Iraqi farmers in the face of adversity.

As Iraqi farmers like Ismail Ibrahim and Abbas Ali navigate the challenges posed by environmental degradation and resource scarcity, their shift towards sidr trees may well represent a pivotal moment in the region's agricultural practices. 

This adaptation not only showcases the resilience of the farming community but also underscores the urgent need for sustainable agricultural solutions in the face of changing environmental conditions.

Writing by Michael Georgy 

Related

Iran

Factbox-Iran oil sanctions in US aid package for Ukraine

U.S. lawmakers have tucked sanctions on Iran's oil exports in the House of Representatives' aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific after Tehran's missile and drone strike on Israel last weekend.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Mena banner 4

To make this website run properly and to improve your experience, we use cookies. For more detailed information, please check our Cookie Policy.

  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and can only be disabled by changing your browser preferences.