Themes

Small-Scale Farming in North Africa

North Africa is among the regions globally most susceptible to climate effects.

Reduced rainfall and unpredictable weather are predicted to further aggravate dry-land ecologies’ ability to feed a growing population. This is compounded by a decades-long switch towards conventional farming practices that decrease agricultural genetic diversity – contributing to land and ecosystem degradation, poorer dietary diversity and health, and increased dependence on food imports that are low-grade and subject to volatile price fluctuations.

Across the region, economic instability has been increasingly placing greater stress on citizens. As old jobs are disappearing, youth unemployment soars at 3 times the global average and many are taking great risks to journey to the Northern shores of the Mediterranean in search of better lives.

 

Small-scale farmers, supplying around 80% of the region’s agriculture, are among the most vulnerable to these trends. With a majority of landholdings less than 5 acres, uncertain land tenures, and lack of social safety nets, regional volatilities further endanger already insecure livelihoods. Decisions to make short-term gains, such as purchasing hybrid seeds or chemical fertilizer, risk long-term dependency on more powerful agribusinesses. This is compounded by disconnects from markets, resources, and value chains, resulting in missed opportunities to develop small-scale food enterprises – and weak collective capacities to manage local food systems.