The use of groundwater has led to a considerable expansion of irrigated areas in Lebanon and Syria. However, the trend is significantly different depending on the area. In the southern part of the basin, the remote sensing analysis shows a considerable extension of the irrigated area between 1985 and 2010 in the region of Qusayr in Syria and to a lesser extent in Lebanon. A large extension of the irrigated areas also took place east of Homs.
The increasing exploitation of groundwater in these areas provides a least a partial explanation of the contraction of summer irrigation in the north of Homs. A similar phenomenon occurs in the north of the Syrian section of the basin. There is a contraction of irrigated areas in the Al Ghab irrigation scheme that can be linked with the expansion of irrigated areas south and east of the irrigation scheme.
However, other factors contribute to the contraction of the irrigated area in the Al Ghab irrigation scheme. This area has indeed been one of the hardest hit by the decline in farm income since the early 2000s and more recently by the rising price of fuel and fertilizer due to the removal of subsidies in 2008 and 2009 respectively.