Traditional seeds battling climate change in Tunisia

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Tunisian farmers are turning to the past to ensure a future by planting indigenous seeds as the North African country suffers at a time of drought, disease and climate change.

Farmers in Tunisia are revisiting the past as hope for their future. They are planting indigenous seeds through their difficult period of drought and climate change.

In addition, these seeds come from a genetic heritage that works best with the changing environment, shared Maher Medini.

Medini is a representative from Tunisia’s National Gene Bank which promotes sustainable agriculture within the country.

“They are reservoirs of genes hundreds, if not thousands of years old,” Medini said. Furthermore, emphasizing on the fact that these seeds are resistant to the realities of global warming.

As a result of climate change, rainfall, temperature and humidity have changed significantly and cause disease in crops.

Farmers on Traditional seeds battling climate change in Tunisia

In the past, using indigenous seeds, Tunisian farmers set aside a small part of the harvest to sow in the next season.

But the development of hybrid or genetically modified seeds resulted in better harvests, and native varieties largely fell out of use.

The new variants cannot be replanted and farmers have to buy new seed each year.

Mohamed Lassad ben Saleh farms in the agricultural region of Jedaida, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) northwest of the capital Tunis.

In Jedaida, a town in Tunisia, farmer Mohamed Lassad ben Saleh switched to the traditional variety 8 years ago. Al-Msekni is the name of the variation and has made his farm more productive.

The wheat harvested from each hectare is weighed separately, so each plot’s productivity can be calculated.

Each hectare of wheat on Mr Saleh’s farm are weighed separately to see each plot’s productivity. And according to Mr Ben Saleh, “The results are good”.

When he meets other farmers, he lets them know how his traditional seeds are performing.

Farmers say the traditional seed varieties to wheat are resistant to disease in comparison to the 1980s variety that fall victim. They further claim traditional seeds are battling the climate change in Tunisia.

In reent years, the national average per hectare has been between 1.4 to 2 tonnes. However, Mr Ben Saleh says his yield has been 5 tonnes.

This has been a great discovery for the people of Tunisia.


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