MAHDIA - Combining agroecology and water resilience for sustainable food systems through collective intelligence and regional support

At a time when the effects of climate change are leading to structural droughts in many African countries on both sides of the Sahel, agroecology offers solutions to the conditions of water stress in the regions and to their agricultural and food consequences. "The agroecological transition ties agricultural production, including its constraints linked to access to natural resources, to the challenges of food and nutrition for consumers, by integrating the notion of adding value to agroecological products", explains Sami Bouarfa, deputy head of the AQUA division at INRAE and co-leader of the project.

MAHDIA's objective is to design and implement a participatory approach to developing regional platforms that bring together all the players in the food systems of the areas where the project is to be implemented: farmers, processors, distributors, restaurateurs, local authorities and consumers. To this end, the project will be based on the concept of a “product of regional interest”, linking agricultural and food issues.

Three joint research units involving CIRAD and INRAE in Montpellier are being mobilized on water management, innovation and food systems (G-EAU, Innovation, MoISA). According to Sami Bouarfa, this is a first: "We are now able to link the food systems approach with production conditions.  The framework of agroecology and food science allows us to decompartmentalise science, which is essential if we are to meet the challenges of the environment, agriculture and food, the 3 pillars of the research carried out at INRAE".

The MAHDIA project has just been awarded €1 million in funding over 2.5 years, the fruit of joint development work between the partners (Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and France). The Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie (National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia, INAT), the Ecole Nationale d'Agriculture de Meknès (National School of Agriculture in Meknes, ENAM) and the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research, ISRA) will be joined by other partners from the partner countries.


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