Interview: Abdesslam Chelghoum
What is being done to modernise agriculture?
ABDESSLAM CHELGHOUM: Since 2000 the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries has implemented a strategy for the modernisation of the sector. Several initiatives have been put in place to create a favourable framework for the implementation of the strategy. These include the promotion of local governance through participatory processes, the clarification of the status of agricultural land by the Agriculture Act of 2008, the establishment of financial tools to promote and encourage investment in agriculture and, finally, the support of interprofessional consultation for the implementation of the programmes.
Given the current financial climate, adjustments have been introduced that will enable adaptation of the strategy, the increased production of strategic crops, the improvement of internal supply and the diversification of agricultural production.
This new growth model is the basis of our current policy and includes a couple of key elements. First, the provision of agricultural land to private sector investors, the size of which should match the size of their investments. Second, the modernisation of farms and livestock raising, as well as encouragement of the greater use of mechanisation. To that end, we are striving to improve access to agricultural land in the Saharan and Hauts-Plateaux regions as well as promote agricultural land concessions to private actors on public land.
To achieve the objectives set for the modernisation of the agricultural sector, collaborative arrangements and exchanges have been set up by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research for increased involvement from researchers.
How much potential is there for increasing exports of Algerian agricultural products?
CHELGHOUM: Algerian agriculture has significant potential thanks to the wide diversity of its environment and restrained use of chemicals. These assets provide opportunities for year-round production of quality goods as well as organic produce.
Algeria is also able to generate goods for export. The current policy in the context of diversification of non-hydrocarbons resources by promoting exports of agricultural produce and foodstuffs is structured on two approaches. The first is the export of products traditionally exported by Algeria, such as vegetables, including potatoes, fruits (especially dates), carob and wine, among others. The second is the export of products which have natural comparative advantages, such as off-season market farming produce and animal products, such as sheep’s meat.
To this end, measures for the development of packaging infrastructure, storage, processing and mastering the supply chain are a priority to ensure that value is added to our products, and to make them consistently available. Similarly, measures are being taken to strengthen the certification system, the standardisation of agricultural products and food safety.
What challenges is Algeria facing in terms of the further development of the fisheries sector?
CHELGHOUM: The challenges and objectives of the new strategy for the development of fisheries and aquaculture through the Plan Aquapêche, launched in 2014, consist of strengthening food security, contributing to the preservation and creation of jobs, and contributing to the development of the national economy.
The continuation of this strategy rests on several pillars. First, promoting fisheries and aquaculture oriented towards integration, sustainability and job creation. Second, improving the supply of the domestic market with diverse and better-quality products, and products that are accessible to the consumer, and third, establishing strong support and participatory management mechanisms for the continued growth and development of fisheries and aquaculture.
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