The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) has reported progress in its Red Meat Value Chain project. This project seeks to help Tunisian livestock farmers gain stockfeed self-sufficiency, while teaching drought adaptation techniques to crop farmers.
In a project update statement, ICARDA said 42 farmers have involved in a seed multiplication programme that has produced over 200 tons of forage seed. The project has also assisted the development of 4 private micro-enterprises that produce feed blocks using newly designed semi-automatic machines.
Other project successes include the creation of an updated national strategy for forage and pasture seed production, the setting up of an upgraded forage and pasture seed processing unit, as well as the manufacture and distribution of 29 cactus choppers to poor smallholder farmers.
“The Red Meat Value Chain project in Tunisia works to eliminate feed gaps and help crop farmers adapt to drought. The initiative promotes practical, cost-effective technologies that help enhance the sustainable supply of nutritious feed and forage, including feed block manufacturing units, processed cactus, fast-track seed multiplication and dissemination strategies and improved quality forage through the production of silage.
“It also strengthens the organisational capacity of farmer associations, enhances the performance of Tunisia’s extension services, and supports the development of small enterprises, particularly those that promote the involvement of youth and women,” ICARDA said.
STABILITY AND INCOME
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with ICARDA and the government of Tunisia as implementing partners.
“Tunisia’s livestock sector is an important contributor to the national economy and the selling of red meat is one of the main income-generating activities in rural areas. Unfortunately, feed shortages are a major constraint on production, leading to low or moderate performance and high rates of abortion and death.
“Despite feeding costs constituting more than 60% of the total cost of meat or milk production, forage production is highly sensitive to rainfall and remains limited. Feed is therefore mainly imported – a situation that is further exacerbated by recurrent droughts and associated climate variability,” ICARDA said.
The organisation noted that since the 2011 political revolution that toppled long time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, livestock farmers have experienced an increase in production costs and price fluctuations, which all impacted negatively on their livelihoods.