Ambassador Joey Hood’s Remarks
Launch of $7 million U.S. funded “Sharing Underutilized Resources with Fishers and Farmers” (SURF) project to Help Tunisia’s Farming and Fishing Sectors Adapt to Climate Change
January 31, 2024, Tunis
Good morning everyone.
Thank you, Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources, and Fisheries’ Chief of Staff, Mr. Abderraouf Ajimi, for your hospitality and for your partnership on this important project. I am delighted to participate in this launch event, celebrating our mutual efforts to combat climate change and strengthen Tunisia’s agricultural and fishing sectors.
Today, we launch the “Sharing Underutilized Resources with Fishers and Farmers”, or SURF, project. SURF will support more than 9,000 farmers and fishers as well as start-ups and cooperatives in the agriculture and fishing sectors to improve product yields and adapt to climate change.
Climate change is threatening lives and livelihoods as families and communities all over the world. The economic burden of the climate crisis often falls on those who can least afford it.
Since antiquity, Tunisia has stood as a pioneer in the farming and fishing industries. It was known as the granary of the Roman Empire.
I’m sure you all recall the Carthaginian scholar Magon whose influential treaty on agriculture was one of the most important sources on the subject for centuries. Magon’s revolutionary ideas transformed agricultural practices around the Mediterranean, leaving an enduring legacy that continues to shape our understanding of cultivation and sustainability.
Today, Tunisia’s agriculture sector employs hundreds of thousands of Tunisians and drives economic development in rural areas of the country.
SURF will improve the operations of the small farmers and fishers who are indispensable to this sector. And SURF will help them adopt and master new practices that anticipate the effects of climate change.
As part of SURF, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, more commonly known as Virginia Tech, a cutting-edge U.S. university, will share best practices in research and development to advance Tunisia’s capacities in regenerative agriculture, sustainable fisheries, and forest conservation.
And we cannot talk about climate change without addressing the increasing frequency of natural disasters such as forest fires. Through SURF, we will partner with the Ministry to establish a natural disaster management system to enhance disaster preparedness and facilitate effective response.
As we all confront the challenge of global climate change, the U.S. Embassy team along with our partners and institutions look forward to continued collaboration with the Tunisian people and government to support farmers, promote food security, create jobs, build resilient communities, and protect our beautiful planet, together.