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Promoting the adoption of natural resource management technology in arid and semi-arid areas: Modelling the impact of spineless cactus in alley cropping in Central Tunisia

Alary, V., Nefzaoui, A., Ben Jemaa, M.
Agricultural systems 2007 v.94 no.2 pp. 573-585
cacti and succulents, arid zones, innovation adoption, bioeconomic models, pastoralism, natural resource management, Opuntia ficus-indica, alley cropping, Tunisia
The arid and semi-arid areas of North Africa are becoming deserts. Most of the research and development projects in these areas aim at developing alternative technologies to reduce land degradation and favour sustainable economic activities. The 'spineless cactus-alley cropping system' is an interesting alternative in the low rainfall areas of North Africa. This system limits land degradation by the use of perennial crops, produces cheap and drought resistant sources of feed, and favours biomass production in the inter spaces. The important question is how to promote the adoption of this technology. A bio-economic model has been developed to identify the conditions of development of the 'spineless cactus-alley cropping system' in an agro-pastoral community of Central Tunisia. Scenarios relating to different types of institutional support, either monetary or informational, were analysed. The results revealed larger cash flow, more livestock and less cereal cultivation on marginal land. Adoption of the technology is clearly favoured by public financial support and also largely by transmission of information on the expected yield of the system. The findings suggest that extension services play a crucial role in creating awareness among farmers of the impact of technology in terms of yields and income diversification.