Tunisian farmer Saber Zouani is proud of what he achieved. After losing his job in the tourism sector during the pandemic, he decided to try something new and started a permaculture farm.
Since then he has become self-sufficient and is now even making an income for his family selling the excess produce.
Permaculture is an alternative to industrial farming that uses less water and avoids chemicals and pesticides.
“I use 30,000 litres (of water) a day for my needs. I found a solution with the permaculture technique to use 15,000 litres per day for one hectare, for my vegetable garden, my crops… and even for my trees”, said permaculture farmer Saber Zouani.
Zouani started off more than two years ago with the help of the Tunisian Association of Permaculture, which gave him initial training as well as financial support for basic equipment.
“Whether it’s water stress or the war in Ukraine and elsewhere. For us, all this is an opportunity to highlight the solutions offered by different agricultural systems, agro-ecology and permaculture. Because with these techniques, the first thing to do before planting a tree is to plant water. And how do you plant water? It’s the drop that falls in the form of rain, and which certainly shouldn’t be left in the nature unmanaged”, said Rim Mathlouthi, President of the Tunisian Permaculture Association.
Many hope permaculture will help Tunisia weather the impacts of climate change and wean it off its reliance on global supply chains, including grain and fertiliser imports from Ukraine and Russia.
For local customers, the advantage is that they know the origin of the products.
“I’m there and I see the products. The privilege is that he (the permaculture farmer) explains to me what I’m going to put on my plate, and I think that’s great”, said Salem Laghouati, a consumer of permaculture products.
An unprecedented drought has left the Tunisian countryside parched and water reservoirs are at dangerously low levels this spring.