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Towards climate-resilient agriculture in North Africa


In North Africa, livelihoods and economies are strongly dependent on agriculture. Pressure on water demand due to climate change is threatening incomes, development and food security in the region. Increased temperatures and droughts have stressed rainfed systems, affecting crop and animal production.

IDRC has funded several research for development projects in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria to help address these climate-related pressures. The efforts have resulted in enhanced climate resilience and food security solutions in the three countries.

Project teams focused on developing, piloting and scaling up technical innovations. Their interventions followed participatory and multidisciplinary methods with an emphasis on gender equality to ensure a more inclusive impact.  

Research highlights

  • In Morocco, upgrading the production, processing and marketing of quinoa improved the income of smallholder producers and marketers. Under rainfed conditions, it was found that the net profit from one hectare of quinoa was more than triple that from one hectare of wheat and around seven times that from one hectare of barley. 
  • In Tunisia, the use of a mechanical chopper reduced waste of feed by 20% to 30%, and thus lowered production costs. This technology also lightened women’s workload, especially concerning hand-cutting of cactus leaves, enabling them to diversify their sources of income with the time saved.
  • In Algeria, applying mycorrhizae on different vegetable crops in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid bioclimates demonstrated an increase in yields of between 32% and 55%.


In Morocco, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture generated evidence supporting the promotion of quinoa, given its high tolerance to environmental stress. As a valuable high-protein food source, the crop can improve the resilience and livelihoods of communities living in fragile ecosystems. The project developed, tested and scaled up innovations to address the challenges encountered in the production, processing and marketing of the quinoa value chain. It contributed to the official registration of five quinoa varieties with high tolerance to heat and salinity stresses, high productivity and yield stability. It also improved the income of smallholder farmers who are producing and marketing this crop. 

UM6P is also actively working to increase women’s share of the benefits generated by projects funded as part of the development strategy 2020-2030 for the agricultural sector in Morocco (Generation Green), a plan that will contribute to rural development and food security. The project team is collaborating closely with provincial agricultural authorities. They will generate evidence-based recommendations to reduce gender inequalities in the projects supported by Generation Green in the country.

The African Plant Nutrition Institute, hosted at UM6P, also completed a project that enhanced the resilience of smallholder women farmers by upgrading the goat milk value chain including increasing fodder production. 


In Tunisia, the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT) developed and tested business models to scale up mechanized fodder processing using an electric machine. Results showed a reduction of fodder waste by 20–30% with an average decrease in production costs of 30%. The project team piloted an innovative financial mechanism of the mechanized chopper, designed in collaboration among the research team and the public and private sectors. This mechanism facilitated the adoption of the machine at large scale.

The Wheat Research Accelerator Fund, a co-funding initiative between IDRC and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, is currently supporting two projects to enhance food security in Morocco and Tunisia through innovative seed system and scaling mechanisms of high-yielding climate-resilient wheat crop varieties and improved crop management. The National Institute of Agronomic Research in Morocco and INRAT-Tunisia are implementing these projects with the technical support of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.  


In Algeria, the University of Blida 1 in collaboration with the Collège de Maisonneuve in Canada completed a project aimed at improving agricultural productivity and increasing revenues for smallholder farmers through bio-innovation. The research team increased crop productivity in the range of 32–55% as result of the application of mycorrhizal fungi. The project’s potential contribution to food security in Algeria is significant, particularly since it can be used in the main agro-ecological zones of the country. It paved the way for engaging the private sector in the commercialization of the innovation by securing the public authorities’ approval for it. 

Scaling climate resilience and food security solutions

A large group of people sit in a circular room.
Mohammed VI Polytechnic University

At a high-level knowledge-sharing workshop at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco in May, IDRC showcased its contribution to food security and climate-resilient agriculture in North Africa. There, IDRC convened diverse stakeholders for a dialogue towards climate-resilient agriculture in the region.

The potential collaboration across North African countries is especially promising since they share similar climatic and agricultural challenges.

Historically, investments in technical solutions in the region have been much larger than those that would enable their large-scale adoption. As a result, the potential to scale climate-resilient agriculture solutions is still significant there.

“To advance climate-resilient agriculture in North Africa, concerned stakeholders like those from the research and donor communities, UN agencies, public and private sectors, and civil society are called to increase investment in the mechanisms and business models that would allow for the adoption of technical solutions at large scale,” stated Marwan Owaygen, senior program specialist in climate-resilient food systems program at IDRC.

A group of people stand in a hallway looking at booths and posters on walls.
Mohammed VI Polytechnic University