Improving food security by protecting and regenerating degraded farmland

Project description

Title: Soil protection and rehabilitation in Tunisia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Tunisia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Maritime Fisheries
Overall term: 2019 to 2024

Context

Farmland and grazing land in Tunisia is severely damaged and at risk of progressive degradation. The organic matter content in the soil is insufficient, which destabilises the soil structure, limits fertility and impairs the ability of the soil to retain and store water. As a result, it becomes less resilient to climate change induced variability and no longer fully performs its original ecological functions. Soil productivity and crop yields fall as a consequence. This has a negative impact on food self-sufficiency in rural regions and increases susceptibility to the effects of climate change.

Soil protection and appropriate soil management are therefore defined as priorities in Tunisia's various national water and soil protection strategies. For example, the strategy for the management and conservation of farmland (ACTA) from 2017 calls for the large scale propagation of sustainable soil and farmland management practices. Successfully implementing this strategy requires a system of interdisciplinary consulting approaches and offers.

Objective

The severely degraded farmland in the central west and northwest of Tunisia has been regenerated and is better protected over the long term.

Approach

The project is based on three fields of activity that are interrelated and complement each other:
The first field of activity implements measures to protect and regenerate degraded soil. Here the project primarily focuses on ecologically sustainable measures for adaptation to climate change. Good agricultural practices such as crop rotation, composting, direct seeding and the use of treated sewage sludge are to be promoted and propagated as well. In addition, the project is testing agro-forestry methods and combining agriculture with forestry. Integrated landscape management and the agro-pastoral system with integrated stock farming are also intended to help improve soil management and fertility. The skills of partners and farmers are to be developed in this context. 

In another field of activity the project is working on the long-term anchoring of soil protection in the political, institutional and social framework. This includes better networking, cooperation and the dialogue between national institutions and political decision makers. Partners are also to be educated about the economic consequences of soil damage. The project primarily provides advisory services for the implementation of strategic measures (such as the clarification of land rights, incentive mechanisms). At the same time, it supports the integration and promotion of new sustainable land management incentives and measures through national strategies and local development plans.

In the third field of activity the project prepares lessons learned and innovations from practical implementation for the transfer of knowledge at the national and international levels. Among other things, it is developing a communication strategy for this purpose, promoting the exchange of knowledge and experiences between various players. The goal is to disseminate the experiences and accomplishments of the project and make them accessible over the long term, anchoring them with the partners and target groups. Good practices and approaches can be publicised this way and promoted through various formats (dialogue, workshops, meetings, videos, information and communication technology). The local, national and international networking of all participants is another plus.

Last update: December 2020

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