Developing a National Strategy for Advancing Feed and Forage Resources in Tunisia

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CGIAR innovations via ICARDA considered as key pillars of the strategy.

Authors of this blog: Aymen Frija, Véronique Alary (ICARDA Tunisia)

CGIAR Initiatives on Agroecology and  Livestock and Climate held a national workshop on “Developing a National Strategy for promoting Feed and Forage Resources in Tunisia” in March 2023. ICARDA, and its key partners in Tunisia (namely the Bureau of livestock and pastures (Office de l’Elevage et des Pâturages), and the Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education (IRESA) organized the event that aimed at developing a national road map to promote and upgrade the sector of animal feed resources at the horizon of 2035. The main purpose is to reduce the feed sector dependence on importations and enhance the use of local feed resources through increased production, storage, and processing investments. The debate took into consideration the effects of climate change, geopolitical and economic challenges, and other factors, such as changing dynamics of livestock population and its composition by 2035. There was a prior, common agreement that the strategy should be designed in an inclusive way with the participation of all major players and actors and built upon a thorough examination of the opportunities, threats, and current state of the sector. Among the 82 participants were professionals from the development and scientific research institutions, business and private actors, local and international experts.

Six working groups were set over two days, with each assigned a specific goal related to animal feed and forage resource, namely develop concrete and feasible plans to increase investments in:

  1. Natural rangeland productivity and resilience
  2. Feed from forage crop production
  3. The management and valorization of agricultural and agro-industrial by-products
  4. Production of forage and pastoral seeds
  5. Developments of concentrated feed incorporating local feed ingredients
  6. The management and valorization of food and industrial by-products for animal feeding

Following two days of intensive work, productive discussions, and effective coordination, each group has formulated comprehensive recommendations and actionable plans representing the workshop’s significant output. Among those are:

  • Expand the regions where triticale, barley, vetch, and forage mixtures are grown to optimize productivity.
  • Diversify the types of forage crops to increase options for livestock feed and soil health.
  • Create production and feeding methods that reduce waste and environmental impact.
  • Use treated wastewater to irrigate forages, when possible, conserve water resources and lower irrigation costs.
  • Enhance the quality of dominant forage crops.
  • Develop and restore degraded rangelands, sustainably managing rangelands.
  • Put in place a national program to promote spineless cactus (resistant varieties to the Cochineal).
Participants of the workshop: Developing a National Strategy for promoting Feed and Forage Resources in Tunisia”

Participants suggested that effective governance and management of pastures can be achieved by 2035 through stakeholder integration, improved coordination, targeted capacity development, and flexible grazing management of private pastures. It is important to mention that many of the innovations ICARDA is working on, such as promoting adapted varieties of vetch crops, small scale mechanization for forage seeds, toolbox for rangeland assessment and management, as well as flexible grazing of rangelands, among others, have been considered as key pillars of this strategy.

The workshop further intended to promote the use of by-products in animal nutrition, reduce postharvest waste and loss, and increase the use of agricultural and industrial waste to contribute to animal feed requirements. The plan calls for diversifying types of by-products, enhancing conservation and storage practices, and setting up appropriate small machines to add value to these components.

The workshop was successful in finding the most important strategies for improving animal feed and food resources by 2035. The collaborative efforts of the institutions and workshop participants is a first and fundamental step to guarantee success, ensuring food security and minimizing waste.

The next steps are to build on the existing achievement and refine the strategy draft with a financial study that can pave the way towards a national campaign to raise public and private funds for proper implementation of the strategy over the upcoming decade.

Farmer producing pellets. Credit: ICARDA

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