Middle East drought a threat to global food prices
Drought that peaked in severity during 2008 and 2009 but persisted into 2010 was blamed by some experts in Syria for the soaring food prices that aggravated social tensions and in turn triggered the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
"Prior to the protests, food costs were soaring. In fact, because of these food costs, the protests were instigated, so this was brought on by drought and lack of planning," said FAO's Hossain.
Economic hardship was aggravated by faltering public subsidy schemes that once efficiently distributed subsidised fertilisers and seeds to millions of drought-hit farmers in both Syria and Iraq, agro-economists add.
Middle-Eastern experts predict more frequent drought cycles in coming years, accompanied by delayed winter rainy seasons that damage fruits by promoting premature flowering and prevent cereal crops growing to full maturity.
"The climate change cycles are now shorter, which means ... we will eventually have less rain and more frequent droughts," Fady Asmar said.
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