Science et changements planétaires / Sécheresse


Cereal improvement and related activities that promote food security in Tunisia Volume 10, issue 1, Mars 1999

  • Page(s) : 27
  • Published in: 1999

Drought resistance mechanisms, along with their impact on final grain yield, have to be fully understood when planning cereal improvement programmes for arid environments. Based on these considerations and due to the irregular rainfall, Tunisian researchers designed a strategy to reduce the negative effects of drought on cereal yields. It is based on the selection of early-maturing cereal cultivars (to reduce the effect of drought on grain filling), on fertility and on biotic and abiotic stress factors. Analysis of crop data collected over the past 20 years revealed a progressive decline in the area cultivated with older cereal varieties, with a concomitant increase in cropping of recent early disease-resistant cultivars. Without expanding the total area under cereal crops, yields have thus been increased to a self-sufficiency level, except during periods of serious drought (2.4 q/ha in 1988). Other factors have also markedly enhanced self-sufficiency. They include water resources management aimed at increasing the area under irrigation, improving technical cultivation and grain storage capacity, providing better technical support for farmers and promoting the active involvement of private agricultural enterprises.