SEMIARID- Sustainable and Efficient Mediterranean farming systems: Improving Agriculture Resilience through Irrigation and Diversification
Hatem Belhouchette, Centre International de Hautes Études Agronomiques Méditerranéenne - Institut Agronomique Méditerranéen Montpellier ; France
Resilience and adaptive capacity, ecosystem services, biophysical and household bio-economic models, production and consumption decisions, climate and market shocks.
In a context of climate, socio-economic, policy and institutional changes, the Mediterranean region (MR) needs to strengthen its food and nutrition security, while improving its natural resource management. The major challenges are therefore: i) making agricultural food production systems highly resilient to water shortage and climate and market shocks; ii) combining food production and provision of ecosystem services in a “sustainable intensification” of farming systems to meet the ever growing food demand; iii) sustaining rural populations, ensuring farming profitability and employment and iv) providing rural and urban consumers with safe and nutritious, culturally acceptable and economically accessible food. Using the multi-scale and multi-domain Integrated Assessment of Agricultural Systems (IAAS) approach, the SEMIARID project aims at assessing the resilience of Mediterranean farming systems in relation with their crop diversity, water management, farm structure and food production strategy, in order to evaluate whether they can maintain high productivity and provision of ecosystem services in the face of possible climate and socio-economic changes/shocks. The combination of biophysical and household bio-economic models will allow capturing both production and consumption decisions of farming households and environmental facets of farming activity and to identify levers of action to improve these performances. Combining model insights and local stakeholder collaboration, scenarios will be designed for resilience simulation and trade-off analysis to test scientific hypothesis and for strategic thinking with stakeholders. On the basis of representative household farm types in three contrasting case studies in Morocco, Algeria and France, original knowledge and innovative methodological tools will be developed in three fields. 1. The exploration of the role of intra-farm and inter-farm diversity in determining the resilience and adaptability of Mediterranean agricultural systems. Overall, the question addresses the assessment of the resilience of Mediterranean farming systems to global change (climate, socio-economic) and how it is affected by diversity in cropping systems (annual vs. perennial ; succession vs. association), water management (rain-fed, irrigated), farm structure (size, number and nature of activities, availability of irrigation, etc.), local resource availability (water, labour, land) and access to facilities (technical supports, market, etc.). 2. The implementation of a modelling framework for integrated impact assessment to explore how different scenarios of diversity and adaptiveness developed in interaction with local stakeholders, might improve the resilience of Mediterranean farming systems to reduced water availability and quality in a context of global change. 3. The emergence of a multidisciplinary group of Mediterranean researchers and students supported by an international course on integrated modelling for resilience assessment and integrated impact analysis, using the Case Studies as illustration.