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Drought in the Fertile Crescent

ONE OF THE WORST DROUGHTS IN THE PAST DECADE settled heavily over the Fertile Crescent region of Iraq and Syria in the winter of 2007-2008. Under normal conditions, winter rain and rivers flowing from the mountains of Turkey sustain the rich agricultural land that has fed humanity from the dawn of civilization. But little to no rain fell between October and December during the crucial planting period, and sparse rain has fallen in the months that followed. Even irrigated crops suffered from a lack of water, since the drought limited the amount of well and river water available for irrigation. The winter’s drought was followed by a hot, dry spring that further damaged crops. As a result, Iraqi farmers are anticipating a harvest as much as 51% smaller than the harvest of 2007. Syrian farmers faired a little better, though the Syrian wheat harvest will be 38% lower than in 2007. The drought also crept east into Iran’s wheat-growing region, where farmers are anticipating their smallest harvest in six years.

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