Tunisia – Tunisian experts call for recovering local seeds, warn of food security crisis


Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Language: Arabic

Duration: 00:05:29

Voice: Natural

Source: A24 Tunis

Restriction: A24 subscribers

Date: 07/11/2022


Tunisia faces a serious threat to food security as imported seeds dominate the agricultural sector despite their low quality and high cost. Large quantities of local seeds have been smuggled out over the years, creating a sustainable dependence on foreign companies exporting them.

With the worsening effects of global crises on food security, many farmers and experts have called for estimating domestic production and restoring it from abroad, to protect Tunisians from hunger amid global import and export problems. Recently, Tunisia has managed to recover thousands of varieties from its local seeds, while large quantities are still available in different countries.

Tunisian seeds are distinguished by their high yield and nutritional value, in addition to their ability to adapt to harsh climatic conditions.

Shot list:

Soundbite (Mohamed Ragaiba – Member of the Executive Office of the Union of Agriculture):

“Food security is to meet the needs of the people in general by providing them with as much food as possible, but food sovereignty is to produce as much food as possible for the consumption of the country. It is better for us to encourage the Tunisian farmers and solve our internal problems in these sectors. It is also better to preserve on production systems, which will lead us to self-sufficiency and reduce imports of hard currency.”

Soundbite (Hassan Al-Shtiwi – farmer and researcher in recovering original Tunisian seeds):

My struggles and problems started in the early 90’s. I am the first person to object to foreign seeds. Unfortunately, I have found people who are against my project and say that imported wheat is better and less expensive. This deprives Tunisians of producing their own seeds and wheat. They also suggest that the country bring necessities from abroad, without thinking about the current global diseases, such as Covid, crises and wars, such as the Ukraine war, which will not allow wheat to reach Tunisia. Is it possible that France and America will leave their people to starve and feed the Tunisians? Or will Italy allow a ship full of wheat to pass to Tunisia when its people are hungry? I don’t think so. Therefore, if we do not produce our own wheat and do not rely on ourselves, we will die.”

Soundbite (Hassan Al-Shtiwi – farmer and researcher in recovering original Tunisian seeds):

Tunisia was supplying Rome with its locally produced seeds, not hybrid seeds. At that time, we supplied Rome with wheat and fodder, and we who today suffer from a shortage of fodder. We have to sell our cows because of the lack of feed. We are so accustomed to producing straw with these seeds that they are more than needed because of the huge amount that this wheat produces. I started a seed retrieval project and recovered more than 50 species. Farmers came from everywhere because the idea worked and expanded. I want farmers to follow the same idea and approach, especially with the crisis we are experiencing today. Do you hear that “a drop of water is better than a treasure”? This is the case today. A grain of a seed is better than a treasure. The state has to think and stay awake day and night. We raise our voices and call on the authorities to find solutions because people will die of starvation.”

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