‘Caring for the Planet Starts from the Ground’ for IFAD

Mbarka use stepladder to climb a palm tree, she uses an hacksaw to set free dates brunch from brunches. © IFAD / Alfredo D’Amato / PanosPictures


Thouraya Lahmer and Aoun Ouni are two villagers from the south of Tunisia. Although they are not policy makers or soil experts, they both contribute to feeding the world. What they do is a reflection of this year’s theme of World Soil Day – Caring for the Planet Starts from the Ground.

Since 1980, IFAD’s work in Tunisia has helped improve the livelihoods of individuals like Thouraya and Aou in rural communities. IFAD supported projects in the country have contributed to managing natural resources and restoring the fertility of agricultural soil.

Globally, more than 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land, leading to millions of people abandoning their ancestral lands and migrating to urban areas, and permanently altering landscapes. In an effort to counteract this trend, IFAD has introduced projects to restore the productivity of agricultural lands.

Thouraya Lahmer, the entrepreneur of healthy soil

Thouraya is an ambitious woman living in a village that lacks any prospects for women. When she learned about the Agropastoral Development and Local Initiatives Promotion Programme in the South-East – Phase II  (PRODESUD), she seized the opportunity and applied for a loan.

“As I was seeing all my friends and neighbours planning to cultivate their abandoned land and diversify their products, I noted that all of these farmers need a healthy soil, so they all need fertilizers,” says Touraya.

After her loan was approved, she started her own business providing farmers with fertilizers, helping small scale farming in the village to flourish through soil rehabilitation activities. IFAD and partners helped to guarantee a steady flow of water reserves for irrigation by fencing the arable lands with wind breakers to protects the soil from erosion and building water cisterns..

Since the establishment of her business in 2016, Thouraya  has managed to produce and sell 15 tonnes of fertilizers and her business is booming. In fact, this win-win situation is encouraging her to dream bigger: “I am planning to increase the production next year, hire more locals to help me in the production of the fertilisers as well as in the delivery to other villages”.

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