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Agricultural production revenue set to decline by 200% due to climate change in Tajikistan

Rural household in Tajikistan. Photo credit: N.Palmer/IWMI

Tajikistan is the typical example of a country unjustly suffering the effects of climate change. Climate models show that - in general - countries in Central Asia will face more droughts and heat waves in the years to come. These changes will have profound impacts on agriculture, biodiversity, health, food security and the overall economy of the region. Although it is one of the countries with least responsibility for producing the greenhouse gas emissions, Tajikistan remains highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. A small mountainous country of less than 7 million people, Tajikistan is the poorest country of the region and more than half of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Its low adaptive capacity and dependence on food imports further underscore the importance of the agricultural sector in tackling poverty and achieving rural development.

A new study on the economic impact of climate change on agriculture in Tajikistan’s concludes that growing climate variations will further exacerbate the country’s already low agricultural productivity, which will in turn affect farmland incomes in the medium and long term.

Declining agricultural revenues under different climate change scenarios

The study, conducted under the framework of CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) used the 2007 World Bank Tajikistan Living Standards Survey, soil data from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s soil map and climate data from ICARDA’s GIS Unit. Scientists at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) used a Ricardian approach, of econometric cross sectional analysis modeling to observe future climate scenarios in the medium term (present day until 2070) and long-term (present day until 2100). One scenarios considers climate warming by a +2.9 Celsius degrees and the other by + 4.6 Celsius degrees.

Analyzing data of 2557 farm households in 166 villages across the 10 agro-ecological country zones, the results indicate that increasing temperature and precipitation will both be damaging to Tajikistan agriculture and consequently to the net revenue per hectares that farmers can generate in the medium and long term. The study estimates that the average negative impact on Tajikistan’s agricultural revenue due to climate change will be between 80 to 157%.

Under these conditions, climate change will have a particularly negative impact in the three agricultural regions of Soghd, Khatlon and the Regions of Republican Subordination. For example, agricultural net revenue in the Khatlon province is expected to decrease by more than 200% both in the medium and long terms. Increases in summer precipitation will be the main reason for the expected decline in agricultural net revenue in this province. In contrast, increased summer temperatures and decreased precipitation in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province  will lead to increases in agricultural net revenue in this region.

Key recommendation for improving the livestock sector

In order to balance out the negative effects of climate change and help farmers increase their income and improve their livelihoods, the study recommends the development of heat-tolerant livestock sector. Water management will also have important implications in climate change adaptation in Tajikistan. Although the analysis did not incorporate variables such as the carbon fertilization effect, the role of technology or the change in prices in the future, policy makers can extract significant information that will help them anticipate and inform the significant adaptation effort needed in different locations of the country.

About the author(s)

Pratima Mathews is the Science Writer at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Ares.

Tana Lala-Pritchard is the Communications Program Coordinator at the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

Note: This article first appeared in the ICARDA website.

Closset, M., Dhehibi, B. and Aw-Hassan, A. 2015. Measuring the economic impact of climate change on agriculture: a Ricardian analysis of farmlands in Tajikistan. Climate and Development, Volume 7, Issue 7, pp: 454-468.