The Irrigated Agriculture Intensification Project in Tunisia, co-financed by the World Bank to the tune of US$140m, officially kicked off last week in Gammarth, a northern suburb of Tunis.
The project, costing a total of US$150m, aims to support Tunisia’s efforts to develop irrigated agriculture, targeting the regions of Beja, Bizerte, Jendouba, Nabeul, Sfax and Siliana, according to a TAP report.
The project aims to improve the management of limited water resources and create economic opportunities, in underdeveloped areas, according to the World Bank. Activities will reportedly focus on the rehabilitation of irrigation systems to boost their reliability and efficiency.
According to the World Bank, these conditions are necessary for the development of a more productive agriculture sector, “generating higher incomes and offering better opportunities for various kinds of businesses and various population categories, including women and youths”.
The agricultural sector is responsible for 80 per cent of the total water consumed in the country, which is already threatened by water stress, with losses caused by the obsolescence of irrigation systems estimated at 40 per cent.
The project, which will be implemented by the Agriculture Ministry in cooperation with the Regional Authorities for Agricultural Development (CRDA), provides for the creation of a new entity to manage irrigation, improve efficiency and upgrade infrastructure.
The project also includes a subsidy programme to enable local farmers to invest in higher value-added activities and encourage investment in infrastructure including cold stores and packing facilities to boost the value of post-harvest production.
In Tunisia, irrigated crops cover an area of 435.9m ha, accounting for 35 per cent of national production, according to statistics from the Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Investment (APIA).