Reducing the Vulnerability of FYR Macedonia’s Agriculture to Climate Change

December 5, 2013

World Bank report takes an in-depth look at the challenges and opportunities of climate change on agriculture

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2013 — Agriculture is one of the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors, and without a clear plan for aligning agricultural policies with climate change, the livelihoods of rural populations are at risk, according to the World Bank publication Reducing the Vulnerability of FYR Macedonia’s Agricultural Systems to Climate Change.

The book notes that in many countries, such as in FYR Macedonia, the risks of climate change are an immediate and fundamental problem because the majority of the rural population depends either directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods.

“The rural poor will be disproportionately affected because of their greater dependence on agriculture, their relatively lower ability to adapt, and the high share of income they spend on food,” said William Sutton, an author of the book and a Lead Agriculture Economist at the World Bank. “Climate impacts could therefore undermine progress that has been made in poverty reduction and adversely impact food security and economic growth in vulnerable rural areas.”

The study projects impacts of climate change on agriculture across FYR Macedonia’s three agro-ecological areas through forecast variations in temperature and rainfall patterns so crucial to farming. According to the report, over the next 40 years climate change will grow more severe in FYR Macedonia. Average warming will be about 1.8°C, compared with the increase in temperature of less than 0.2°C observed over the last 50 years. Precipitation will likely become more variable, with an average national decline of 8 millimeters in a given month by the 2040s.

The annual averages, however, are less important for agricultural production than the seasonal distribution of temperature and precipitation.  Temperature increases are projected to be higher, and precipitation declines greater, during the crucial summer growing period. Summer temperature increases can be as much as 4-5°C in the continental zone of FYR Macedonia by the middle of the century.

By predicting water supply and demand in FYR Macedonia under a changed climate, the authors forecast substantial water shortages for the Crna River basin in the future, meaning that there will be insufficient water available to irrigate all crops. This could lead to losses for farmers of 50 percent or more for most crops under the medium impact scenario if nothing is done to adapt.

Sutton added that At the same time, climate change can also create opportunities, particularly in the agricultural sector. Increased temperatures can lengthen growing seasons, higher carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations can enhance plant growth, and in some areas rainfall and the availability of water resources can increase as a result of climate change.”

According to the publication, the risks of climate change to agriculture in FYR Macedonia cannot be effectively dealt with—and the opportunities cannot be effectively taken advantage of—without a clear plan for aligning agricultural policies with climate change, developing the capabilities of key agricultural institutions, and making needed investments in infrastructure, support services, and on-farm improvements. Developing such a plan ideally involves a combination of high-quality quantitative analysis, consultation with key stakeholders, particularly farmers and local agricultural experts, and investments in both human and physical capital.

“This book offers options for navigating the risks and realizing the opportunities. It identifies practical solutions for introducing what is known as ‘climate-smart agriculture’ for farmers in Macedonia” said Dina Umali-Deininger, Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Manager in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region. “It demonstrates that the solutions are those measures that increase resilience to future climate change, boost current productivity despite the greater climate variability already occurring, and limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

Reducing The Vulnerability of FYR Macedonia's Agricultural Systems to Climate Change: Impact Assessment and Adaptation Options applies this approach to FYR Macedonia with the goal of helping the country mainstream climate change adaptation into its agricultural policies, programs, and investments.

Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Country Manager in FYR Macedonia, said that climate change is a topic of great relevance to the country. “Macedonia is already experiencing an increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions. A warmer and drier climate will likely continue to affect agriculture – precipitation is expected to decrease, so there may be a need to adjust the choice of crops to reflect water shortages, as well as to invest in irrigation.”

Proskuryakova added that “The World Bank has financed the recently completed Agriculture Strengthening and Accession project, which supported the Ministry of Agriculture’s ability to utilize EU rural development funds and deliver irrigation and drainage services. In addition, the Bank is working on the Green Growth and Climate Change Analytic and Advisory Support Program, which assesses the economic costs and benefits of a shift to greener growth, taking into account projected climate change, and suggests options for prioritizing actions identified by the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD).”

This is one of four country studies that were produced under the World Bank’s program, Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change in European and Central Asian Agricultural Systems. The other countries included in this series are Albania, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.

The results from the four studies are consolidated in the book Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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