Mission to the Laghouat living lab
banniere de l'article retour de mission en fevrier 2024 NATAE

Mission to the Laghouat living lab

Last February, the NATAE (North African Transition to AgroEcology) project manager undertook a mission to Laghouat, Algeria.

The Laghouat oasis is one of the 6 “living labs” in the NATAE project. These living labs, deployed in 5 North African countries and representative of the diversity of agrosystems in the region (mountain systems, oasis and peri-oasis systems, peri-urban systems, cereal plains and irrigated valleys), aim to encourage the adoption of agro-ecological strategies in North Africa through the co-construction of knowledge between the main stakeholders (farmers, development players, consumer organisations, research institutions, local advisory services, government departments, etc.).

Using participatory approaches, and via the creation of representative committees in the living labs, the NATAE project will make it possible to identify and evaluate optimal combinations of agroecological practices, stimulate consumer demand for agroecological products, develop advocacy for alternative public policies favouring the agroecological transition, and integrate agroecology into education and training systems.

The mission had a number of objectives.

Working meetings with local partners

Several working meetings were held with the Living Lab’s local coordinator and the El Argoub association – the project’s partner association in Laghouat. These meetings helped to prepare the next workshops to be held with farmers and the Laghouat representative committee to select the relevant agro-ecological practices to be tested in the light of the Living Lab’s challenges, and to consider the conditions for their development.

Site visits

Visits to farms in different sectors (cereals and fodder; cattle, goat, sheep and camel breeding; market gardening; arboriculture and phoeniculture) helped to refine the understanding of the obstacles and opportunities for the adoption of agroecological practices in these different production systems. The project leader also visited artisanal and semi-artisanal cheese processing plants and discussed with farmers and processors strategies for marketing and adding value to the various products.

Participatory workshops with the representative committee

The presence during the mission of a teacher-researcher and a doctoral student from CIHEAM-IAMM, a partner in the NATAE project, made it possible to initiate data collection for modelling purposes. During a workshop with the representative committee, we identified, for each commodity chain (cereals-fodder, market gardening, arboriculture and phoeniculture) and for each of the main crops, the variations in yield as a function of various factors (access to water, soil fertility, access to labour, input supplies).

Player testimonials

The project manager was able to collect video testimonials from two key players in the living lab. The first, from a farmer who is an expert in phoeniculture, tells us about the constraints linked to access to water in the Living Lab, and the practices put in place to ensure optimum management of this resource. The second testimony, from a representative of the Agricultural Services Department (DSA), presents the major challenges facing agriculture in the Living Lab and the role of the DSA in supporting the agro-ecological transition. These testimonials can be found here.

Last but not least, this mission was an opportunity to strengthen the links between the CARI and local partners, through various discussions and convivial moments!

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