Tunisia: 60 farmers use brackish water to grow vegetables

On 3rd of June 2016, the Minister of Agriculture of Tunisia, Mr. Saad Seddik, visited and officially inaugurated the pilot plant for the desalination of brackish waters implemented by the ACCBAT project. Treated water will be used by 60 farmers of the Mahdia region to irrigate vegetable crops, eventually reducing freshwater abstraction.

Tunisia, like many countries of the Mediterranean area, has a long history in dealing with water scarcity. Impact of climate change along with growing urban population and increased demands from industry and agriculture, have put huge pressure on the country’s limited water resources.

As agriculture is the main water consumer in Tunisia (but also worldwide), accounting for over 80% of total water abstractions, the ACCBAT project has focused its efforts on the irrigation side in order to foster on the use of alternative water sources at farm level.

More specially, the project built in the Mahdia region a desalination unit able to reduce the amount of salt in water from 5.8gr/l to 0 for about 200m3 of water per day. The demonstration farm has been also equipped with a 600m3 water storage for the mix of desalinated water and brackish water. This water, with reduced salt concentration (about 1.5gr/l) is used by 60 farmers for the irrigation of greenhouses crop such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

"I hope the new irrigation will avoid the severe soil degradation we experience and increase the kind of limited of crops I can grow," said a local farmer. The desalination unit will also contribute to limit the use of freshwater for irrigation, a solution often used by farmers due to extreme salt concentration in soil.

ACCBAT (Adaptation to Climate Change through improved water demand management in irrigated agriculture by introduction of  new technologies and best agricultural practices) aims to improve water demand management and ensure water needs of the agriculture sector through the increase of water-use efficiency and use of treated wastewater. Pilot actions, reinforcement of capacity building and training are some the key activities implemented in Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. The project, coordinated by Italian NGO "ICU ONLUS", has been funded by the ENPI CBC Med Programme for an amount of  €4.5 million.

Andrea Vigevani
ICU Onlus
General Secretary
Tel. + 39 06 9393 8367
Email: andrea.vigevani@icu.it 
See the ACCBAT website