Climate change could reduce annual olive production by 2.3% between 2022 and 2050

Tunis: Climate change will have major fallout on Tunisia’s agricultural sector, namely a sharp decline in the major products destined to export, including olives (annual production losses of 2.3% between 2022 and 2050) and dates (with an average annual production drop of 2%), reads the “Macroeconomic Impacts and Challenges of the Agricultural Sector’s Adaptation to Climate Change” report published, last March, by the Tunisian Institute of Competitiveness and Quantitative Studies (ITCEQ).

Climate change in Tunisia represents a major challenge for the national economy in general and agriculture in particular, with high temperatures, less rainfall and extreme weather phenomena, the report reads.

As such, the ITCEQ said that field crop production, 95% of which is located in the north-west (Kef, Beja and Jendouba governorates), is set to fall by 0.1% over the period 2022-2050.

The production of market garden crops is expected to be the most affected by climate change. These include tomato production, which is e
xpected to show a sharp average annual decline of 1.8%, potatoes (-0.7%), citrus fruits (-0.2%), etc.

Animal production will also be strongly affected by the future drop in rainfall and rise in temperature. Sheep, goat and cattle production is expected to drop by 0.3% and 0.9% between 2022 and 2050.

However, poultry production is expected to show an upward trend, with an average annual growth rate of 0.4%. Fisheries production is expected to stagnate.

In the medium and long term, the fall in national agricultural production would have significant repercussions on the national economy, due to the reduction in employment in the agricultural and agri-food sectors, the increase in food imports, and consequently a greater demand for foreign currency and hence the real depreciation of the exchange rate.

In addition to these difficulties, the agricultural sector already suffers from a high level of dependence on the climate (irrigated agriculture accounts for only 4.5% of the total agricultural area), dominance
of family farming characterised by a low level of education among farmers (44% of whom are illiterate and 39% of whom have a primary level of education) and increase in farmers’ indebtedness.

In this respect, the report underlined that adaptation policies for Tunisian agriculture should focus on four areas: agricultural production, biodiversity and ecosystems, land and water resources.

As for agricultural production, emphasis should be placed on improving crop production, especially durum wheat, dates and olives, and preserving the agrosystem so as to improve yields by promoting sustainable production systems (adapting new varieties, species and breeds that are more resilient to climate change).

At the same time, efforts must be directed towards improving the management of food products demand, in order to reduce losses and wastage.

With regard to natural resources, especially land, the strategy aims to make the most of natural potential in order to achieve neutrality in land degradation, rehabilitate soi
ls and improve their retention capacity.

In terms of the water sector, adaptation policies should focus on improving the efficiency of water use in the agricultural sector (controlling wastage by installing micro-irrigation), improving the mobilisation, transfer and storage of water resources by setting up rainwater management and recovery systems (retention basins, artificial lakes, etc.), and building and rehabilitating hydraulic structures, etc.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse




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