Jos Alfredo Rodrguezpineda Lorrain Giddings Hctor Gadsden And Vijendra K Boken

Drought is the most significant natural phenomenon that affects the agriculture of northern Mexico. The more drought-prone areas in Mexico fall in the northern half of the country, in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, and Aguascalientes (figure 10.1). The north-central states form part of the Altiplanicie Mexicana and account for 30.7% of the national territory of 1,959,248 km2. This area is characterized by dry and semidry climates (GarcĂ­a, 1981) and recurrent drought periods. The climate of Mexico varies from very dry to subhumid. Very dry climate covers 21%, dry climate covers 28%, and temperate subhumid and hot subhumid climates prevail in 21% and 23% of the national territory, respectively.

About 20 years ago, almost 75% of Mexico's agricultural land was rain-fed, and only 25% irrigated (Toledo et al., 1985), making the ratio of rain-fed to irrigated area equal to 3. However, for the northern states this ratio was 3.5 during the 1990-98 period (table 10.1). Because of higher percentage of rain-fed agriculture, drought is a common phenomenon in this region, which has turned thousands of hectares of land into desert. Though the government has built dams, reservoirs, and other irrigation systems to alleviate drought effects, rain-fed agriculture (or dryland farming) remains the major form of cultivation in Mexico.

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