For centuries agriculture has never ceased to be the foundation sector of the Tunisian economy.
As of today, no one can deny the contribution of agriculture to the development and growth of Tunisia in international markets. Therefore, this sector has always been considered as one of the pillars on which the entire nation rests.
Unfortunately, at a time when technical progress is at its peak, Tunisian agriculture is in a major crisis of imagination and innovative ideas. Production based on archaic techniques passed down from generation to generation is declining along with an increasing demand. However, a possible solution to this issue could be found within the new Tunisian generation that is willing to improve the sector with innovative ideas and be part of a movement that is spreading in the agricultural sector. To create a link between youth and agricultural entrepreneur networks, the INAT Junior enterprise organized its 8th Forum entitled “Employability and internships forum, [AGRI’IN]” on 3 March, at the INAT auditorium. The organizers ensured full compliance with the health protocol and social distancing and streamed live the event on their social media channels.
The event included presentations by experts and representatives of agricultural associations and public institutions, researchers and startup founders.
The event started with the opening words of the INAT Director, who emphasised the importance of including innovation among agricultural engineering topics and encouraged all trainees to get in touch with the field issues through internships and job opportunities that could be the outcome of the forum.
He also stressed the importance of vocational training in the future of agriculture and in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, while underlining the support that could be provided by the national ecosystem and international cooperation. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that IRESA is one of the national partners of WATERMEDYIN Project, financed by the Italian cooperation and implemented by CIHEAM Bari to strengthen and support young entrepreneurs in addressing agrifood projects and facing national and international related problems.
The introductory statement was followed by the thematic training session opened by Ms. Chaabene Hanene, who presented the major achievements of Innov INAT project, which is aimed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship through workshops and the incubation of agricultural projects.
Mr. Khmaies Zayani, representative of AVFA, presented the new perspectives and action plan of the AVFA through an update of its agricultural training programmes.
The forum had a special focus on organic agriculture, with contributions from UNOBIO, the national Union of organic operators, represented by its General Director Mr. Leith Tlemsani, who provided an overview of the union’s achievements and future perspectives. He also recalled the importance of collaboration between research partners, such as IRESA and UNOBIO, to create a close link with the operators and provide updates on the organic sector. He also mentioned the support received from public sector institutions, such as the Technical Centre of Organic Agriculture (CTAB), represented in the event by its General Director, Dr. Khaled Sassi, who presented a newly implemented project aiming at supporting young entrepreneurs within organic agriculture related projects.
The second session of the forum focused on the current situation of Tunisian agriculture and the urgent problems to be addressed through research, with special emphasis on the alarming scarcity of water and the urgent need for projects that operate to resolve it. The same concern is addressed by WATERMEDYIN, which is finding and supporting projects working on water scarcity and the efficient use of water resources in the agricultural sector.
The event also included contributions from various projects working in the agrifood sector, such as Ezzayra and Bioagrihelpers startups, which both agreed on the importance of networking and the need to implement innovative agricultural projects jointly with research to achieve better results.