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Climate Changes Impact on Agriculture and Livestock


Saudi Arabia commonly referred to as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the second-largest country after Algeria in the Arab World. Its neighboring countries include Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Iraq. The approximate size of Saudi Arabia is 2,000,000km2. The climate of Saudi Arabia is semi-arid, which is characterized by low levels of rainfall and extreme temperatures (too low or too high).

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The country loses much water to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration because of high temperatures. This contributes to water shortage and scarcity of vegetable cover in the country. The main crops grown in the country are fruits and dates. However, only 2% of the country is agriculturally productive. An extensive land approximately 2.7 million hectares is covered with forest. Coral reefs and mangroves also cover large pieces of land.

Saudi Arabia is a major producer of gas and oil. The country earns foreign exchange through the exportation of gas and oil products to other countries. Although Saudi Arabia is an arid region, agriculture is a major activity. Sometimes the country produces surplus agricultural products that it exports to other countries. Agricultural activities include planting crops and rearing livestock. However, change in climatic conditions is a major threat to agricultural activities in the country (Lippman 2010, p. 90).

Brief Description of the Project

The project will focus on the effects of changes in climate on agriculture and livestock in various areas in Saudi Arabia. The study will monitor weather changes in different agricultural areas within the Kingdom. These areas will include Taif, Sulayyil, Sylkabir, Abha, Shaqra, Bishah, Sarra, Hail, Sakakah, Hofuf, Riyadh, Jizan, Qurayyat, Madina, Najran, and Maqala. The researcher will evaluate the effects of an increase in temperature on the requirements of water by plants. Knowledge gained after conducting the study will help in future decision making concerning projects aimed at improving productivity in the agricultural sector in Saudi Arabia (Abderrahman & Ukayli 1984, p. 50).

Project Purpose

According to Abderrahman and Ukayli (1984, p. 55), the largest region of Saudi Arabia is a desert. On the western side of the country is the Red Sea whereas on the eastern side lies the Arabian Gulf. The height of western highlands along the Red Sea is 3000 meters. The entire country does not have lakes or rivers. Approximately forty percent of the nation has dunes and this includes regions such as Al Rub Al Khali, Nafud, and Ad Dahna basins.

During summer, the climate is hot and dry whereas the winter season is cool and wet. Monsoon winds and easterly winds that originate from the mountains on the south-western side of the country cause summer rainfall. Renewable resources of water in the country are limited. Saudi Arabians rely on underground water, which is stored in aquifers as the main source of water. Distilled water from the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea is used for domestic purposes. There are plans to establish more desalination plants by the government to provide people with more water. Efforts to treat and recycle water for irrigation purposes are also made by the government because the agricultural sector utilizes 89% of the water in the country.

The study on the impacts of changes in climatic conditions is very important in Saudi Arabia. Several studies have been conducted to determine the future effects of climatic changes in Saudi Arabia. For instance, Abderrahman and Al-Harazin carried out a study in 2008 to examine the effects of an increase in temperature on the demand for water in 21 different regions using the Penman-Monteith method.

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This method was used to determine the effects of increased temperature on the requirements of irrigated crops. The results of the study indicated a decrease in surface runoff and annual recharge. Alkolibi applied the General Circulation Model to determine the effects of decreased rainfall and temperature increase on the agricultural sector and water resources. The results showed that an increase in the temperature and reduced rainfall lowers the water table and increases the evapotranspiration rate thereby rendering water unavailable.

Water is a scarce resource in Saudi Arabia. For the country to design plans for managing water, knowledge of the effects of changes in climatic conditions on water resources is vital. Water plays an important role in various sectors in the country such as agriculture. Extensive research is required if the economy of the country, especially in the agricultural sector is to improve. Agricultural activities depend on climate and changes in climate may have adverse effects on the activities. A good example is the one given by increased demand for water in the agricultural sector following increased temperatures that are usually seasonal or due to global warming.

When temperatures increase, crops are irrigated more often, livestock drinks more water, pastures dry up and become scarce. This research aims to understand the effects that changes in climatic conditions will have on agriculture and livestock keeping using the best techniques. The information gained will help in the improvement of the economy through increased production in agriculture and livestock keeping (Abderrahman & Rasheeduddin 2001, p. 210).

Aims and Objectives of the Project

  • To scrutinize outcomes of variations in evaporation, temperature, surface overflow, the velocity of wind, and precipitation in Saudi Arabia.
  • Examine effects of changes in climate on the economy of the country.
  • To establish the effects of changes in climatic conditions on production in the agricultural sector in Saudi Arabia.
  • Evaluate effects of high temperatures with regards to reduced surface runoff, socio-economic impacts, more irrigation requirements, reduced supply of water, and evapotranspiration.

Research Participants

For the success of this research, the researcher will need some people to act as participants in the research. A research assistant will help the researcher in collecting and documenting data. For instance, he or she will help the researcher conduct interviews with residents of the various regions to gather information about challenges they have passed through in farming because of climate changes.

The researcher’s target participants for the interview will be livestock keepers and farmers because they are likely to provide useful information for the study. The researcher will hire a meteorologist to help in carrying the research. Meteorologists are people who have specialized in the study of weather. They monitor the causes of weather and climatic changes using mathematical models and computerized systems.

Meteorologists predict patterns of weather as well as studying the effects of weather changes on the environment. The researcher will need somebody to through areas that he is not familiar with and a driver to transport the participants from one region to another. Other places may not be accessible because of the poor or lack of roads. In such cases, the researcher will hire a person to provide other means of transport like motorbikes or use animal transport like camels to transport participants to areas of study. After completion of the survey, the researcher will need somebody to type and print the report.

Expected Benefits of Research

Climate change is likely to affect food production and livestock keeping in Saudi Arabia by reducing the amount of water available and directly by reducing crop yields. This research will help Saudi Arabia in the implementation of agricultural strategies, which are friendly to the environment. Knowledge of climatic changes will guide farmers in choosing what to cultivate and the best time of the year to do it.

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Farmers in different regions will know the kind of livestock breeds that are favored by that climate and therefore rear them. This will increase food security in the country by increasing agricultural and animal products. Farmers will improve irrigation and agricultural practices, such as new technologies, which save water for irrigation and planting crops, which require less water instead of planting fodder crops that consume much water.

Farmers will learn never to plant food crops that consume much water unless those crops can use wastewater after it has been treated. This will improve the efficiency of irrigation. Waste products from agricultural products will enhance the growth of feed industries. Farmers will learn to raise drought-resistant livestock breeds, which are likely to survive during dry seasons during which water and pasture are limited. The benefits of this research will be experienced by individual farmers, and the country as a whole (World Bank 2008, p. 29).

Literature Review

Lack of insufficient rainfall in the Kingdom reduces available surface water, and it also lowers down the water table. This implies that farmers will depend on irrigation to sustain plants. Insufficient water for irrigation lowers productivity on the farm. Farmers are forced to use extra costs to cover irrigation expenses. Change in climates such as an increase in temperature, heavy rainfall, and strong wind is likely to destroy crops.

Some diseases that affect crops thrive well in certain climatic conditions. Under such conditions, farmers are likely to experience high losses because of the destruction of crops by pests and diseases. Farmers are forced to change the calendar they use for growing crops when climate changes in some regions. Planting of certain crops is changed to different months or years. This is a major challenge to farmers when planning for the activities and projects to invest in (Burdon 1982, p. 77).

The Health and production of livestock are affected by changes in climate, which affects the availability (quality and quantity) of genetic diversity, disease vectors, stress caused by high temperatures, feeds, water, diseases, and water. Reduced rainfall leads to poor growth of pastures. This reduces animal products such as milk by 25%. Lack of enough feeds for livestock makes them susceptible to diseases because of general body weakness.

Also, some disease vectors like tsetse flies are favored by hot temperatures. Tsetse flies transmit trypanosomes, which cause Nagana in livestock. Trypanosomes poison the blood of the host by causing fatigue, weakness, loss of weight, fever, and anemia. Unless the disease is treated, it causes the death of the animal. Although it is a major challenge in Saudi Arabia, the consequences of climatic changes are not always harmful. For instance, an increase in the amount of rainfall increases production. There are certain crops like dates, which do well in hot areas (Alkolibi 2002, p. 230).

Project methodology

To determine the impact of changes in climate in Saudi Arabia, the research will apply the PRECIS System (Providing Regional Climates for Impacts Studies). PRECIS is a system of investigating changes in a climate characterized by 19 vertical levels and 50Km horizontal resolution. A comparison is made between the results achieved through this method and previous recorded climatic conditions in the region of study.

The method is efficient in monitoring weather changes within a particular region, and its operations can be done on a personal computer. The system will be used to determine the effects of changes in climate on resources of water in the selected regions in Saudi Arabia. Whether focusing instruments used by meteorologists, such as Windsock, Windsock, thermometer, rain gauge, hygrometer, and anemometer will be used to compare present and past data in the selected areas at Taif, Sulayyil, Sylkabir, Abha, Shaqra, and other selected areas across the country (Wilson et al. 2007, p. 62).

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According to Wilson et al., “change in temperature, runoff, speed, and direction of the wind, surface evaporation, and precipitation will be studied through the use of Kalida Graph, VCDAT software, and GIS technology” (2007, p. 62). High resolution is an indication that the climate is characterized by an increase in rainfall, temperature, runoff, but decreased evaporation. Penman-Monteith method will be used in determining the effects of temperature changes on irrigated crops. The method will be used to determine the water requirements of irrigated crops during hot and cold weather.

General Circulation Model will be used to determine the effects of temperature and rainfall changes on water resources, and agriculture. Experiments will be carried out in different weather conditions for instance when temperatures are high and rainfall is heavy, high temperatures, and little rainfall, low temperatures, and high rainfall, low temperatures, and high rainfall. Other methods of data collection will include sampling, questionnaires, and interviews. Individuals to be interviewed will be selected randomly to avoid biases. Farmers will be required to address the challenges they experience as a result of climate change. Secondary materials such as books, magazines, journals, and periodicals will be major sources of reference (Hadley Centre 2003, p. 64).

Data Analysis Techniques

The procedure of modeling, cleaning, transforming, and investigating data to emphasize important information, sustaining decision-making, and providing conclusions and recommendations based on the results of the study is known as data analysis. This study will utilize various methods to analyze the collected data including descriptive statistics and confirmatory tests that will be conducted on the respondents. Descriptive data analysis techniques will provide a detailed explanation of the research problem. A quantitative study will examine challenges resulting from climatic changes in agriculture and livestock keeping and suggest solutions to these problems (Yinlong et al. 2006, p. 43).

Descriptive research will be used in summarizing, arranging, describing, and displaying data in form of charts, graphs, numbers, and tables. This will enhance the processes of collecting, interpreting, and presenting data collected in the field. Descriptive statistics will create a way for use of advanced methods of data collection. The study will use numerical interpretations such as variable correlation, standard deviation, and mean providing a strong foundation for statistical data. To enhance the accuracy and reliability of data collected, complete calculation, and analysis of data will be done.

Descriptive data analysis is aimed at collecting and providing an explanation of collected data in different areas. Important concepts of the study will be drawn using the confirmatory data technique in the processes of making concluding remarks of the study. This enhances users’ satisfaction by ensuring that only necessary data is analyzed. This method will enhance understanding of the challenges different regions in Saudi Arabia face because of changes in climatic conditions.

This knowledge is important because agricultural practices play a major role in the economy of the country. Ignorance of the challenges resulting from climatic changes will not only affect individual farmers but also the country at large. This makes climatic changes an issue of major concern (Yinlong et al. 2006, p. 50).

Project Plan

I will carry out this research within five months between August and December 2012. During August, I will identify and analyze the objectives of my study. The research will be conducted to determine the effects of changes in climate on agricultural activities and livestock keeping in Saudi Arabia. I will choose the specific areas in which the study will be conducted. September will be used in planning the procedure of carrying out the research. I will list down the resources needed to carry out the research, personnel, and calculate a rough estimate of the expected budget. I will ensure I have the materials and equipment required for the success of the research. I will also remember to budget for miscellaneous. I will determine the best method to apply in carrying out the research.

I will spend October carrying out the research using the chosen methods. I will travel from one region to another and collect data with the help of my assistants. I will note down the most important things arising during the study in a notebook to avoid forgetting. Last, data collected in the field will be compiled and analyzed in November. Data collected will be analyzed to come up with research findings. I will make conclusions and recommendations based on the results of the study. I will write a report about the findings of the research and supply for sale to be used for the benefit of people in Saudi Arabia in December.

Gant Chart

Gant Chart

Draft budget plan for the project

There are various resources needed to carry out the research. The following is an estimated budget of the resources I need to carry out my research.

Expenses Estimated cost ($)
Weather equipment (Windsock, Windsock, thermometer, rain gauge, hygrometer, and anemometer. 3000
Meteorologist 2000
Transport 1800
Living expenses (food and accommodation) 1300
Research Assistant 2200
Informants Gifts 300
Permit Fee 220
Analysis Costs 1400
Stationery 200
Laptop Computer 1100
Medical Insurance 300
Telephone, Fax, Postage, E-mail 1500
Miscellaneous 1500
Estimated total 16 820


Change in climatic conditions through an increase in temperature leads to depletion of underground sources of water, decreased runoff, and an increase in industrial, domestic, and irrigation requirements. The major challenge facing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is frequent climate changes, which contribute to the shortage of water. Available water in the country is not enough to cater to the water demands of the fast-growing population in the country. Economic and social impacts are experienced in different regions of the country. Saudi Arabian government should plan and establish necessary development strategies to prevent future effects of climatic change in the Kingdom (Cunningham & Cunningham 2004, p. 80).

List of References

Abderrahman, W & Rasheeduddin, M 2001, ‘Management of groundwater resources in eastern Saudi Arabia’, International Journal of Water Resources Development, vol. 17, pp. 185-210.

Abderrahman, W & Ukayli, M 1984, ‘Strategy of groundwater use in Al- Hassa region of Saudi Arabia’, International Journal of Water Resources Development, vol. 2, pp. 45-57.

Alkolibi, M 2002, ‘Possible effects of global warming on agriculture and water resources in Saudi Arabia: impacts and responses’, Climatic Change, vol. 54, pp. 225–245.

Burdon, D 1982, ‘Hydrogeological conditions in the Middle East’, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, vol. 15, pp. 71- 82.

Cunningham, W & Cunningham, M 2004, Principles of environmental science, McGraw Hill, New York.

Hadley Centre 2003, Climate change observations and predictions: Recent research on climate change science from the Hadley Centre, U.K. Met Office’s Hadley Centre, London.

Lippman, W 2010, ‘Saudi Arabia’s quest for food security: Council on foreign relations’, Middle East Policy Spring, vol. 17, 1, pp. 90.

Wilson, S, Hassell, D, Hein, D, Jones, R & Taylor, R 2007, Installing and using the Hadley Centre regional climate modelling system, UK Met. Office, Hadley Centre, London.

World Bank, 2008, World development report 2008: Agriculture for development, The World Bank, Washington.

Yinlong, X, Xiaoying, H, Yong, Z, Wantao, L & Erda, L 2006, Statistical analyses of climate change scenarios over China in the 21st Century, Advanced climate change research, Hong Kong.

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