In the search for innovative agroecological farming practices in irrigated landscapes of North Africa: Case of Kairouan plain in Central Tunisia. PS-7.3-03

Akakpo Koladé, Leauthaud Crystèle, Ben Aissa Nadhira, Bouarfa Sami, Bahri Akiça. 2018. In the search for innovative agroecological farming practices in irrigated landscapes of North Africa: Case of Kairouan plain in Central Tunisia. PS-7.3-03. In : Book of abstracts of the XV European Society for Agronomy Congress : "Innovative cropping and farming systems for high quality food production systems". Agroscope. Genève : Agroscope, Résumé, p. 80. European Society for Agronomy Congress (ESA 2018). 15, Genève, Suisse, 27 August 2018/31 August 2018.

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Abstract : Irrigated agriculture is instrumental for the economy and employment in North Africa countries. However, farmers in the Maghreb region face, on the one hand, multiple environmental and climatic risks, and on the other, economic constraints that, combined together, can lead to the vulnerability of these rural populations. Assuming that strong capacities of adaptation and innovation potentials exist within small-scale irrigated farming systems, this study aimed to identify and characterize existing eco-efficient and resilient farming practices in the Kairouan irrigated plain in Central Tunisia. The latter is entirely cultivated, with a wide variety of crop types such as market gardening, arboriculture and cereals. Representative of small-scale family farming systems in the irrigated plains of Tunisia, this study site lends well to work on the characterization of agroecological practices in a semi-arid irrigated environment. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with farmers, first, to identify low-input practices at the plot and farm scale, second, to apprehend the determinants and the objectives of these practices. The sampling procedure sought to explore the wide range of existing practices, and was thus partly based on the farmers and the local agricultural administration knowledge and networks. The study shows that farmers usually combined different cropping systems, mostly for economic reasons (improved water and land use, increased monetary income by reducing chemical inputs). Low chemical-input or water-use practices, related to agroecology, were observed, especially for watermelon and pepper, which are commonly associated with leguminous species. Agroforestry practices, associating different tree species (mainly olive trees) to other crops, or intercropping (market gardening, cereals), were also common. Some farmers integrated animals in “a no lost integrated farming system”. Furthermore, a little-known, but very innovative practice observed, was irrigation using water coming from organic fermentation, leading to a significant reduction in the need of chemical inputs. All these practices, which are particularly present in small rural farmers, who represent the great majority of the farmers in Tunisia and in Maghreb, show the existence of knowledge on which an agroecological transition could be initiated. Identifying such local agroecological practices is a first step in their adoption and promotion, as decision makers increasingly seek to take into account the environmental impacts of agriculture in the Maghreb.

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Akakpo Koladé, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (FRA)
  • Leauthaud Crystèle, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (TUN)
  • Ben Aissa Nadhira, Université de Carthage (TUN)
  • Bouarfa Sami, IRSTEA (FRA)
  • Bahri Akiça, INAT (TUN)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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