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New World Bank Book Offers Recommendations on Responding to Climate Change in FYR Macedonia’s Agriculture Sector

April 4, 2013

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 — A new World Bank book on the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the Europe and Central Asia region indicates that projected changes in temperature and precipitation in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia are expected to increase the vulnerability of the country’s agriculture sector and rural population if no action is taken.

The book, Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, offers new insights and adaptation options for the agricultural sector in Albania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.

According to the book, temperatures in FYR Macedonia are expected to increase by as much as 1.8o Celsius over the next 40 years – well above the increase of less than 0.5 o C observed in the country over the last 50 years. These rising temperatures, coupled with changes in rainfall patters across the country, are expected to severely impact agriculture production in the region – with projected temperature increases of as much as 4-5o C in summer, coupled reduced water availability during the key growing period of May-September.

Building on these projections, this book offers impact assessments of climate change on agricultural production in three agro-ecological zones (AEZs) of the country. Medium-impact climate modeling scenarios in this book indicate that projected shifts in crop yields in the country will vary by AEZ and crop. Crop production of commodities such as apples and grapes could potentially decline by as much as 45 percent and 32 percent, respectively. On the other hand, wheat yields – both rainfed and irrigated – are expected to increase across all the AEZs, potentially doubling in some areas.  

In order to both offset the negative impacts of these projected scenarios and capitalize on the potential opportunities created by climate change, this book offers a menu of adaptation options tailored to provide specific guidance on how FYR Macedonia can reduce the vulnerability of its agriculture sector to climate change.

“Farmers are already confronting the impacts of climate change, and their livelihoods depend on their ability to match their own efforts to respond to these effects with help from their governments and the private sector,” said William Sutton, an author of the book and Lead Economist at the World Bank. “What this research offers is an approach for examining the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture, and for devising a range of options to help all parties play meaningful roles in adapting to the impacts, and making the most of the opportunities.”

Key recommendations at the national level include:

-          Improve the farmer education system to increase its access, with a focus on growing drought- and pest-resistant crop varieties;

-          Improve the dissemination of hydro-meteorological information to farmers; and

-          Provide incentives to consolidate farm holdings.

Key recommendations at the Agro-Ecological Zone level:

-          Improve crop and livestock varieties;

-          Increase water availability and rehabilitate irrigation and drainage systems; and

-          Promote soil erosion control measures.

This book has already helped shape agricultural development in FYR Macedonia. Recommendations from the analysis carried out on climate change and agriculture in the country have been incorporated into the latest Country Partnership Strategy with the World Bank, and are being integrated into the Green Growth Strategy currently being developed for the country.

“This is about adaption to climate change to minimize the more damaging effects,” said Jitendra Srivastava, co-author of the book and agriculture specialist consultant to the World Bank. “Given the resources and information, farmers can take advantage of longer growing cycles, and plant more resilient crops so they can be confident they can still earn a living.”

“We believe it is urgent and central to understand the scope of climate change, its impacts on agriculture, and the possible responses in this region. This study aims to address these concerns by building awareness about climate change in our client countries and to work with them to offer practical climate smart solutions,” said Dina Umali-Deininger, Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Manager in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region.

This book is part of the broader climate smart agriculture approach being implemented by the World Bank. This approach emphasizes the need for agricultural practices that can simultaneously increase productivity in today’s climate, build resilience to climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – contributing to a “triple win” in the agriculture sector and providing sustainable solutions to the challenges posed by a shifting global climate.