Posted by: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

The World Bank has announced a USD 140 million (nearly 357.94 million dinars) project to support the Tunisian government’s focus on irrigated agriculture as a means of managing scarce water resources while creating economic opportunities, especially in underdeveloped rural regions.

The new project will finance the repair of irrigation systems to make them more efficient and reliable, as the critical input for a more productive agriculture sector that generates greater revenues and provides opportunities for a diverse range of people and enterprises, including women and young people, the World Bank said in a statement Tuesday.

The Irrigated Agriculture Intensification Project in Tunisia will physically rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes in agricultural areas in the governorates of Béja, Bizerte, Jendouba, Nabeul, Sfax and Siliana. Along with reducing water loss, which can amount up to 40% of water used, the repairs will mean more consistent delivery.

The project will also provide assistance for identifying higher value crops and increasing yields, and linking farmers to markets.

It will also support the mobilisation of private investment in agriculture. Matching grants will be used to crowd in investments by local farmers in higher value-added activities.

Grants will also be used to encourage private investment in post-harvest infrastructure that would also increase the value of agricultural production, such as cold-chain logistics for the export of fresh fruit and vegetables, or facilities for processing olive oil rather than exporting it in bulk.

“The project will provide training and capacity building which will be targeted at vulnerable groups such as women and young people, so that they have the support they need to access new opportunities created in agriculture,” Francois Onimus, World Bank Senior Water Resources Management Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project was quoted as saying in the statement.