Performances, Policies, Challenges and Opportunities of the Tunisian Agriculture Sector from Natural Resources Management Perspective a SWOT Analysis
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A comprehensive assessment of the Tunisian agricultural potential, production, natural resources management and policies has been presented using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Concerning the strengths of the agricultural sector in Tunisia, it is important to notice that the sustained growth of this sector over the last three decades can be considered as an important factor of agricultural development in the short and medium run. Moreover, the social role of the agricultural sector in rural development and income generation for the poorest population made it necessary to consider this sector from a social perspective in addition to the efficient economic perspective. Among the weaknesses, the paper indicates that they are related to the environmental degradation (land and water). In addition, the intensification rate in some irrigated areas is still below the targeted potentials. Local water users associations, even though spread all over the country and taking into change the management of most of the irrigated areas in Tunisia, are still facing a lot of social, financial and organizational difficulties. Despite these challenges, some opportunities seem to be in favor of the Tunisian agricultural sector. The policy makers in Tunisia are willing to modernize the sector with new educated and open minded farmer’s generation in Tunisia with their willingness to adopt new technologies once efficiently targeted by the necessary extension services. Major remaining threats of the Tunisian agriculture are relative to the low consciousness level of private farmers about sustainability issues, climate change impact on rain fed agriculture and on the availability and use of water resources, fluctuation of the international food market prices and the increase of the energy prices. Moreover, the current weak political context after the 2011 revolution made it difficult to implement and to enforce various regulatory instruments especially for natural resources exploitation.