Final Report Summary - SUSTAINMED (Sustainable agri-food systems and rural development in the Mediterranean Partner Countries)
The overall objective of the SUSTAINMED project has been to examine and assess the impacts of EU and national agricultural, rural, environmental and trade policies in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, namely in so-called Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) as well as in Turkey. The impacts to be analysed were very diverse, including socio-economic structural changes, employment and migrations trends, income distribution and poverty alleviation, resource management, trade liberalisation, as well as commercial relations with major trading partners (in particular the EU) and competitiveness in international markets. The rationale for such a wide research agenda was the realization that trade liberalization alone, which has been the linchpin of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation for decades, will not be sufficient to promote sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.
The research consortium put in place for this project gathered 13 research institutions from 11 countries, building on the well established networks of MAICH and IAMM, two institutes of the CIHEAM. The project has focussed on four MPCs (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria – the latter was subsequently dropped out because of political events in that country) as well as on Turkey. A wide range of complementary methods and analytical tools was used, including quantitative modelling, structured surveying, indicator building and qualitative data analysis, in order to provide (i) orders of magnitude of the impact in MPCs of changes in important policy parameters, and (ii) qualitative insights into processes which will be important for the future welfare of MPCs but which cannot be fully captured by quantitative indicators. The research done under this SUSTAINMED project has been mainly of an applied nature focussing on a few major socio-economic issues and policy domains: the poverty situation and how to reduce it; sustainability issues, the role of the private sector; food security and risk management; trade liberalization and Euro-Mediterranean integration.
The potential impact of this SUSTAINMED project could be very significant, not so much because of the originality of the scientific insights gained but because of the topicality, relevance, and urgency of the policy lessons learnt. Admittedly, many of these lessons had been formulated before in one form or another. But it is their robustness which is striking. The main merit of our project may be the contribution to this robustness of the conclusions. In summary, rural poverty remains a major problem which can and must be tackled more effectively through a re-examination of the intellectual foundations of past policies; sustainability issues are serious, worrisome for the long term and not adequately addressed by existing public policies so far, because the social and environmental dimensions are not given sufficient attention; trade liberalization alone will not be sufficient to promote sustainable development in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries and the European Neighbourhood policy must give much more attention to the core issues of long term rural development than it has done so far. Of course, the impact of the SUSTAINMED project will greatly depend on the extent to which these results are disseminated, accepted, and taken on board by a wide range of public and private actors.
Major attention has been, and will continue to be, given to the dissemination of the results via: a dedicated web site (http://sustainmed.iamm.fr/) where all project documents and publications can be found, a variety of meetings, and many publications, notably a book synthesizing the main results to be published by SPRINGER in 2014.
Project Context and Objectives:
Events related to the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, which are still unfolding dramatically in several countries, have many internal causes. They have also underscored the inadequacy of cooperation activities conducted since 1995 in the framework of the Euro-Med Barcelona process, which gave prime of place to the utopian goal of establishing a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone, originally planned to be achieved by 2010. Already, several research projects devoted to agricultural trade liberalization in the region, conducted within the EU sixth Framework programme for research and technological development, had shown that an exclusive focus on the debates regarding agricultural trade liberalization distorted gravely the attention of analysts and policy makers away from more important problems in the promotion of rural development in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries and somehow paralyzed EU-Med cooperation in agriculture and rural development.
Accordingly, the overall objective of the SUSTAINMED project has been to examine and assess the impacts of EU and national agricultural, rural, environmental and trade policies in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, namely in so-called Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) as well as in Turkey. The impacts to be analysed were very diverse, including socio-economic structural changes, employment and migrations trends, income distribution and poverty alleviation, resource management, trade liberalisation, as well as commercial relations with major trading partners (in particular the EU) and competitiveness in international markets.
The specific objectives addressed by different work packages involved conceptual and empirical analysis aiming to:
1. Assess the current situation and prospects for human development in the whole Mediterranean region and in MPCs in particular, with special emphasis on livelihood of rural populations, employment, poverty, income distribution and migration trends. In Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, some attention was also given to the institutional and traditional arrangements to access resources (land, water, labour, capital), as well as to rural diversification and complementarities between agriculture and non-agricultural activities in rural areas.
2. Upgrade knowledge on methodological tools for evaluating global and sectoral agricultural policies in the Mediterranean region, including impact analysis of agricultural reforms on efficiency, income distribution, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, water use, competitiveness, migration flows and risk management.
3. Assess the impact of agricultural trade reforms in Mediterranean countries. This included (i) impact of norms and standards on trade as Non-Tariff Measures in the Mediterranean region, including South-South trade; (ii) the impact of quality, health, phyto-sanitary and environmental standards on agro-food chains and networks (to test whether or not they can be inclusive of small and medium enterprises), iii) evolution of domestic norms due to external demands.
4. Understand the functioning of agro-food value chains and networks, exploring in particular how and to what extent poor people, small enterprises and other target groups are integrated or are influenced by them
5. Analyse the key determinants of competitiveness of relevant agro-food chains linking MPCs with import markets using Global Value Chain analysis. This helped identify binding constraints to MPCs agro-food sector growth and competitiveness and effectively target institutional and policy-related issues, at the sector and economy-wide levels.
6. Investigate how product innovation, diversification and quality differentiation are becoming a growing source of added-value for agro-food production in the Mediterranean region.
7. Assess the impact of global trends that relate to consumption patterns, nutrition and food security and food safety risks in the region, including the identification of vulnerable social groups.
8. Explore the main sources of risk affecting rural population, related to market and natural factors, and assess alternative strategies and policies aiming at optimising risk management in favour of rural populations.
9. Explore new avenues to integrate the analysis of climate change and sustainability schemes into agricultural planning and, more broadly, development policymaking.
The project has focussed on three MPCs (Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia) as well as on Turkey. We have used a wide range of complementary methods and analytical tools including quantitative modelling, structured surveying, indicator building and qualitative data analysis, in order to provide (i) orders of magnitude of the impact in MPCs of changes in important policy parameters, and (ii) qualitative insights into processes which will be important for the future welfare of MPCs but which cannot be fully captured by quantitative indicators. The project purpose has been to help the EU Commission and other relevant stakeholders, particularly government officials in MPCs, to formulate realistic policies and action plans aimed at supporting sustainable agri-food systems, rural development programmes and capacity building in the Mediterranean region. It is also hoped that the project outcomes will thus contribute to improve collaboration and economic and commercial relations between the EU and target MPCs, in line with the new neighbourhood policy of the EU. In so doing, the project has provided relevant research to support the promotion of sustainable development and contribute to fulfilling the EU’s commitment towards the United Nation Millennium Development Goals in the region.
The project consortium has brought together during three years recognised researchers working in six research institutions of four Southern EU Member countries (IAM Montpellier, MAIChania, UP Valencia, CSIC Madrid, UNINapoli, and INRA Montpellier) one partner from Turkey (Akdeniz University), originally four partners from Mediterranean Partner countries (ENA Meknes, INA Tunis, Zagazig University (Egypt), and NACP (Syria), the latter having dropped out because of political events in that country. In addition, two teams from Northern EU countries have been mobilized because of their specific and well recognized competencies on value chain analysis (Kent Business School) and sustainable agriculture and forestry (PTT Finland). The participation of two CIHEAM institutes (Chania and Montpellier) has brought to the consortium a long and rich experience of nurturing and managing research networks in the region. All together, the consortium constitutes a very powerful intellectual group with a strong scientific background and experience in Mediterranean policy, market and institutional analysis. Besides, the group did work very effectively, managing potential conflicts smoothly, exploiting well the complementarities among partners, which are very diverse, and succeeding in maintaining the momentum of work, in spite of the political turmoil in several of the participating MPCs.
The research done under this SUSTAINMED project has been mainly of an applied nature. Hence the presentation of the scientific results here will be organized around major socio-economic issues and policy domains: the poverty situation and how to reduce it; sustainability issues, the role of the private sector; food security and risk management; trade liberalization and Euro-Mediterranean integration.
1- Poverty, particularly rural poverty, remains a major problem in Egypt, Morocco and even in Tunisia. Rural poverty is also an issue in Turkey. Much attention was devoted to characterize the rural poverty situation in each one of these four diverse countries and to analyze the policy dilemmas faced by public authorities as a result. This is the first topic discussed here because we believe that rural poverty is at the heart of the most difficult policy challenges faced by these countries. For instance, the protection and management of natural resources, which are indeed urgent needs, cannot be seriously tackled without paying great attention to rural poverty issues. This is the crux of sustainable development.
In the four countries significant reduction of poverty has been achieved thanks to forceful public policies. In Egypt, the real expenditures per capita (as measured by household expenditure surveys, i.e. a robust indicator) increased by 93% in urban areas between 1975 and 2009, whereas it increased by 78% in rural areas during the same period. Admittedly, this represents a slow and uneven growth, but still a significant achievement. In Morocco, real average expenditures per capita increased by 66% between 1990/91 and 2006/07, the year of the most recent household survey, the average rate of growth being slightly higher in rural areas which however continue to lag behind urban areas. Tunisia has had an impressive record of poverty reduction over the years, cutting the level of poverty (using the national poverty line) from 40% in 1960 to 2.8% in 2010, according to official figures. At the same time, the growth rate of population declined and life expectancy increased markedly while improvements were achieved in education programs, access to health care and basic infrastructure. In Turkey there has also been great progress in the fight against poverty during the last five decades. The poverty ratio, defined as the proportion of the population having an income less than 50% of the median income, decreased from about 49% in 1968 to 34% in 1987 and 16% in 2008.
Yet poverty, particularly rural poverty, remains a major issue in all four countries. The greatest challenge is probably faced by Egypt where the population density is generally very high, even in rural areas, particularly in the Nile delta (more than 900 persons per square Km in 2007 in rural “Lower Egypt” (i.e. not taking the four large urban governorates into account). Morocco was ranked, using the UNDP human development index, the 130th country in the world in 2012, because of a high incidence of poverty in internal rural regions, poor literacy rates and poor performance of the public health system, as reflected for instance in high level of infant mortality. The poverty situation in Tunisia is generally less acute than in most other Arab countries. Yet, as the dramatic events of Sidi Bouzid where the 2011 ‘revolution’ started, a town of some 50,000 inhabitants located in the interior of the country, in a region where the economy depends heavily on agriculture, rural poverty remains a major problem. Tunisian colleagues estimate that the real aggregate poverty ratio could be around 15-20%, and could reach 40% in some areas of the interior. In Turkey the situation is less dramatic. Yet rural areas, where 25% of the population reside, suffer from: a poorly educated and skilled workforce; an ineffective institutional structure and a lack of efficient farmer organizations; a scattered pattern of settlement in some regions; an insufficient development and maintenance of physical, social and cultural infrastructure; a high rate of dependence on subsistence agriculture; inadequate diversification of agricultural and non-agricultural income-generating activities; a high rate of hidden unemployment and low income levels; increasing migration; and an ageing of the population.
The main instrument used to alleviate poverty in many countries has been the set of food and nutrition policies. The dilemma faced by public authorities for decades has been striking. The budget share of food is very high among the poor. Thus, keeping the price of food as low as possible is an effective way to protect the poor. But in North Africa, many farmers are also poor and their welfare is negatively affected by low prices for the products they sell. Hence, in many countries of the region, public authorities have put in place a complex system of market interventions for basic food commodities, notably cereals, setting a wedge between producer and consumer prices. Specific measures have varied through time and from country to country; they have generally included border interventions (e.g. import taxes and physical import controls or, mostly in the past, public monopolies) and subsidies of various sorts. And the difference between producer and consumer prices has mainly been born by the public budget. Admittedly, many of these public interventions have been relaxed during the process of domestic liberalization of the 1980s and 90s. But this liberalization has only been very partial and the cereal markets, in particular, remain heavily regulated. This was particularly evident in 2008, when public authorities made considerable efforts to keep domestic prices of wheat and wheat products stable, at both production and consumption levels, in spite of a huge price increase on international markets and even though these Mediterranean countries must import large quantities of wheat. This policy direction continues to dominate today. The resulting burden on public finances is very heavy, growing, and clearly unsustainable in the long run.
Yet, several signs point to a recent growing awareness of the social and political risks of neglecting rural poverty for too long, as illustrated for instance by the ‘Plan Maroc vert’, adopted in Morocco in 2008, and the National Rural Development Strategy (NRDS) adopted in Turkey in 2006. It is premature to predict what the rural poverty alleviation policies of the new regimes in Egypt and Tunisia will be. Nevertheless, as discussed above, in both countries, rural poverty issues are important, albeit in two quite different contexts, and it would be very surprising if public authorities do not give a high priority to solving those issues. Past efforts have admittedly been significant. Yet, they have not been sufficient to achieve satisfactory success. Thus, the time may have come to re-examine the intellectual foundations of past and current policies. In particular, should not public authorities consider more targeting of beneficiaries than has been attempted in the past? Admittedly, targeting only poor consumers is politically difficult in any circumstance but the economic costs of not doing it are likely to become less and less sustainable. On the producers’ side, targeting the poor would probably mean substituting direct income payments for price support and targeting those payments. Turkey already moved in that direction with the introduction of its direct income support (DIS) program together with deficiency payments
2- Sustainability issues should obviously be of major concern in the region. Water scarcity is already acute in most countries and the situation can only worsen rapidly in the forthcoming years and decades. Other natural resources (soils and biodiversity, in particular) are also under great stress. In order to explore the question of how effective past and current policies have been in promoting sustainable agriculture, forestry and rural development in these countries, and what would be the recommendations for improvements, a specific methodology had to be developed. Factors of sustainability were first analyzed; then, relevant indicators of sustainability were identified for the four study countries, on the basis of international experience and of a benchmarking exercise conducted on the cases of Finland and Spain. It turned out that many quantitative data for these indicators were not available. So, a policy impact analysis was finally carried out relying mainly on qualitative data and national expert judgement. The main conclusion is that there is a lack of policy coherence toward sustainability revealed by the unbalanced and dual consideration given to different sustainability factors in the study countries (pure economic factors clearly prevail over factors related to resource conservation or social and cultural values which are precondition for long-term economic growth). Hence there is a need for a more consistent vision of sustainability issues in future policy agendas – beyond the existing political rhetoric. And a genuine debate also is needed to develop sustainable agri-food systems. There is clear need for specific policies to provide incentives for sustainable agriculture and forestry in MPCs and Turkey, as the dual challenge of increasing agricultural production and productivity while at the same time managing natural resources sustainably is and will continue over the coming decades to be formidable.
In practical decision-making all the important factors of sustainable agriculture and forestry selected for MPCs and Turkey are not given the same emphasis. In general, the need to maintain and enhance the existence of resources and their productive and socio-economic functions is well recognized in the study countries. But biodiversity and cultural values, which have less direct and not so easily measurable impacts on well-being, are less emphasized or even neglected.
For balanced sustainability assessments data on all major factors and challenges of sustainability are needed. In our research relatively much data could be provided by country teams, including data on resources and their productive functions, as well as basic data on socio-economic functions and employment (e.g. farm income, agricultural employment, food consumption) and on the challenges of the agricultural sector in the target countries. However, even more data will be needed in order to guarantee balanced sustainability assessments. In general, more data would be needed especially on resource quality and land degradation, agricultural productivity and to some extent also on rural poverty. Biodiversity and cultural values also should be given more emphasis. Moreover, gender aspect was not specifically emphasized; yet, in rural sustainability assessments a significant emphasis should be given to the role of women.
In addition and more generally, availability of times series data is essential. Some are available in the four countries. But still more would be needed. In some cases the value of an indicator at a single point of time may be enough for assessing how sustainable the current state is. This is possible if a critical threshold value for the indicator is known. In many cases however, and especially if the impacts of policies are evaluated, there is an obvious need to have data from different points of time. Furthermore, regional data, which would be needed for more profound and elaborated analyses were available only in Turkey. Regions differ in their characteristics especially in large countries. There are also specific policies for regions. Lack of regional data complicates the specification of suitable policies and decision-making.
In order to ensure the proper evaluation of policies, institutions need to be set to ensure the collection of time-series data for selected relevant indicators. In addition, these data need to be directly comparable between countries and regions. The indicator selection and the procedures for data collection should be an essential part of the policy programs already at the planning stage of policies.
The qualitative policy impact analysis carried out in the project indicates that there exist significant trade-offs and controversies between the different dimensions of sustainability. In order to maximise the policy effectiveness, these trade-offs need to be accounted for in policy implementation. To tackle the trade-offs a sufficient number of different policy programs and instruments need to be implemented. As the issues related to water use or agricultural productivity and food security may rise especially because of their urgency, other recognized challenges should not be neglected. It is also very important to acknowledge that the full impacts of climate change are yet to be experienced. In addition, neglecting gender aspects will cause in a long run hindered economic growth and social problems.
Consequences of poor social sustainability have been strikingly demonstrated in several MPCs during the last few years. Poverty reduction, women’s empowerment and the increase of local people’s involvement are at the core of social sustainability. Without local acceptance the likelihood to gain long-lasting success is minor. More research is needed on the local peoples’ perceptions of the major problems related to current policies and institutions aiming especially at poverty reduction, decrease of environmental degradation and increasing agricultural productivity, and on their consideration of the best possible policy actions. This applies both to institutional and social structures, and includes issues related to land ownership and legal frameworks.
Possible improvements in social sustainability and in economic efficiency could be achieved e.g. by promoting the development of producers’ cooperatives and by using special financial mechanisms developed to encourage women’s sustainable entrepreneurship. In order to reduce environmental degradation, which further increases poverty, there is need for better understanding the importance of different ecosystem services for the local people, major threats and pressure to them and possible policy actions to overcome the threats. Suitability and applicability of the mechanisms is, however, dependent on local circumstances and they need to be modified based on country characteristics.
Finally, clearly there is scope for strengthening the EU Neighbourhood Policy in MPCs concerning sustainability issues. The SUSTAINMED project identified the weak role of current EU neighborhood policy in EU MPCs affecting sustainability, thus the need to rethink that policy is obvious. As huge challenges still exist (rural poverty, water resources, role of women) there is need for new, innovative policy instruments aiming ultimately at reducing rural poverty in a sustainable manner. This would imply reviewing and evaluating different institutional forms as well as the preconditions for their creation (farmers’ organizations, consumers’ organizations, market information systems, market infrastructure, value chains).
3- The role of the private sector in economic growth, competitiveness and the promotion of rural development, through employment creation, has mainly been studied through an original approach, called ‘Global Value Chain Analysis’ (GVCA). The focus on value chains is justified because understanding where value in the eyes of consumers lie and identifying where ‘bottle-necks’ exist in the chain, could spur a new line of debate over how MPCs can tackle the question of competitiveness in its agri-food export sector, the bottlenecks being often the result of unproductive interactions among various actors, both private and public. This is consistent with two key premises: competition is moving away from ‘between firms’ to ‘between value chains’ and value chains cut across borders.
The specific GVCA approach used in SUSTAINMED draws heavily on the management science literature. The basic assumption is that the value of a finished product is decided by the final consumer and thus, the value chain is defined as the activities that add value to a product from basic raw materials to the final consumer. Effective chain practises, built on holistic concepts of strong strategic partnerships founded on inter-firm trust and a high degree of quantity and quality in information sharing between firms, creates a competitive advantage that, in turn, improves organizational performance. In the past, the above approach has typically been implemented at the single chain level, with a low number of participants and a narrowly defined value stream. The method we used here adapts this chain level approach to the sectoral level with a large number of participants and a multitude of chains, all of which being bound by their participation in the same industry. Thus, shifting from an essentially microeconomic perspective to a sectoral one provides a new way of seeing export competitiveness, which is based on value rather than cost.
The full approach just described was used to analyze the fresh orange export sector in the four study countries although other value chains (tomatoes, dairy, sheep meat, and olives) were studied in various countries. Unfortunately, time and resource constraints as well as other country circumstances did not permit applying the full GVCA approach to other value chains. One should note however that the fresh orange export sector is quite interesting per se. Most MPC countries and Turkey are concerned, the volumes traded, notably with the EU, are significant and the policy issues are often controversial.
Important policy lessons regarding this sector were learnt: Since the price of an orange is not as important to European consumers as certain quality attributes, agricultural policies that seek to drive down production costs, with little concern for what the impact on consumer value could be, might be doing harm to the competitiveness of the value chain. Modernization plans in MPCs should be put within the context of maximizing value. Driving down production costs and increasing export quantity should not be the only, perhaps even not the main, indicator of competitiveness, as is typically associated with traditional approaches. In addition, findings from the GVCA conducted in the four study countries suggest that public authorities could/should:
• Facilitate the dissemination of market information made available to value chain stakeholders. The creation of information networks such as a national database or through training workshops would allow consumer research to be capitalized on and negate against misconceived ideas of what European consumers regard as important;
• Invest in export promotional campaigns and facilitating networking opportunities, for example funding participation in international trade fairs, since the main barrier of European buyers in sourcing from MPCs was the lack of known contacts.
• Provide incentives for investment in those activities that add value to the final consumer, namely: variety selection and substitution where necessary, irrigation systems and methods and quality cold-controlled transportation;
• Support such activities as certified rootstocks and fertilization, quality control during post harvest treatment and controlled environment storage technology. Admittedly, these activities do not strictly add value but they are necessary to bring fresh oranges to market. More generally, public authorities should strive at enabling access to European markets. Most notably, this includes quality and safety systems along the chain.
• Provide greater support to collective organizations and thereby enable better coordination along the chain, poor coordination having been identified as a source of wasteful activities.
In addition, convinced that the dynamic of technological innovation adoption by both farmers and by suppliers of inputs has become a key factor of competitiveness, special attention was given to the analysis of key technological constraints and risks associated with a specific agricultural product, here the citrus production sector in Tunisia. Specifically, we analyzed how the various actors in the value chain cope with clonal selection of some varieties of citrus fruits; viral sanitation and the improvement of citrus fruit varieties and rootstock, as well as with phytophagous citrus fruit mites. We investigated the introduction of methodologies to combat them. Another topic of investigation was the study of the diagnosis for citrus fruit “mal secco”, including chemical measures and varietal resistance. Finally, the study of stubborn and tristeza diseases found in citrus fruits, and their vectors, was undertaken. The main result is that citrus fruit farmers are very willing to, and do, adopt technical progress. But sometimes the obstacles they face are hard to overcome. Thus for instance, we identified an interesting group of highly educated and highly innovative farmers, who appear highly individualistic in their behaviour. They are not involved in the collective actions necessary to fight effectively these pests and diseases. Apparently, their land holdings are too small and fragmented for them to participate in these desirable collective actions. Furthermore, the means required to fund the research and implementation of collective action aimed at providing phytosanitary protection would appear limited. Specific aid from the European or other donors could be justified, knowing that the social demand is increasing in this direction.
Methodological lessons regarding the complementarity between the specific GVCA approach discussed above and the ‘filières’ approaches, conducted in the French tradition and illustrated by the analysis of the dynamics of innovation in the Tunisian citrus sector just reported, have not been fully spelled out, mainly for lack of time. But we expect to pursue this exploration in the near future. Already, a working paper on innovations in Tunisian citrus fruit farming and a working paper on the whole citrus fruit sector in Morocco, including both the domestic and export sectors, have been completed. The challenge will be to produce a comprehensive account of these diverse pieces of research. The preparation of the final book, discussed below, should provide us with the opportunity to do so.
In addition, the specific question of how MPC fresh fruit and vegetable chains organize to comply with private and public, national and international safety standards and thus get access to export and modern domestic markets has been investigated on the cases of tomato growers in Morocco and Turkey. Both grower surveys were complemented by a qualitative survey on the public and private safety mechanisms surrounding the tomato industry in the two countries. The results obtained will provide the basis for a chapter the forthcoming book. The study compares the management of the pesticide safety risk in Turkey and Morocco and focuses on the respective contribution of the public and private actors to that management, the two countries being quite contrasted in that respect.
4- Food security and risk management issues received much attention in the project. A variety of analytical approaches were used, since the main methodologies for carrying out the research must depend essentially on the availability of quantitative and qualitative data. Secondary data were used first to characterize the main features of the food security situation in each country. Subsequently, data from a semi-structured survey of farms as well as the results of an ad hoc Delphi method survey of stakeholders were used in Tunisia and in Turkey to produce a more refined analysis of agricultural risks and of risk management strategies. For Egypt and Morocco, basic information on the food security situation in each country and on public support to risk management was provided by country teams.
Generally speaking, the food security situation in the MPCs studied and in Turkey appears quite satisfactory at the household level if one uses any one of several indicators such as the Global Hunger Index (GHI) produced by IFPRI. But this is the result of forceful public policies, which are very costly in terms of public finance. The main cause of vulnerability to food security risks is the heavy dependence on imports of MPCs for their supply of such basic commodities as cereals, vegetable oil and sugar. This high level of dependency on imports has important consequences for many policy dimensions (poverty alleviation, general inflation, balance of payments management, rural-urban relationships: including internal and external migrations, trade policies, storage policies, etc.). We examined and discussed various options and modalities for these policies. Two conclusions stand out: 1) country situations vary greatly from one to the other and the specificity of each country needs to be taken into account by policy makers; 2) in all countries the food security situation is the product of a very complex set of strong interrelationships among variables and parameters, implying the existence of many trade offs and dilemmas among policy objectives.
At the microeconomic level, there is room for improvement in the use of risk management instruments, notably through greater use of financial market instruments.
5- Trade liberalization policies and the process of Euro-Mediterranean integration were the main focus of previous research projects (notably EUMED AGPOL and MEDFROL) supported by the EU within the 6th Framework Program (FP6). It is clear, as discussed already, that the scope of the SUSTAINMED project was much wider. Yet these issues continued to receive great attention and we can now report deeper and more specific analyses of some issues than those conducted under the two previous projects just mentioned. Thus for instance, a comprehensive study on the extent to which NTMs affect the agro-food sector in MPC has been carried out. In addition to an inventory of Non-Tariff Measures, an assessment of the impact of NTMs, with focus on the extent to which the alert system in the EU is motivated by disguised protectionism was done. The analysis confirmed that, in general, the sanitary and phytosanitary rules applied by the EU are not used as unfair barriers to the access of these goods. Nevertheless, the scope of the research has been widened by considering the “reputation effect” related to a country’s own history of compliance in a particular product. We tested the extent to which past history of notification can affect the implementation of NTMs. Past intensity of notifications, probably due to real phytosanitary problems, can indeed influence the present restrictiveness of NTMs. The econometric tests suggest that the fruit and vegetable exports to the EU and shipments from the Mediterranean region are not particularly discriminated. Notifications are not specially activated by an import surge, which indicates weak links between the functioning of the alert system and import volumes. So, implementation of NTMs by the EU does not discriminate along the level of economic development, which suggests that it rather depends on the integration of agro-exporting firms in the global value chains.
We also investigated the NTM applied by selected MPCs and the value of Ad Valorem Equivalents of these Non-Tariff Measures. It was thus possible to identify common patterns in these measures applied by MPCs. Ad valorem equivalent peaks take place mostly in a set of products: fruits, meat and processed fruits and vegetables. These facts may be attributed both to sanitary concerns and disguised protectionism. Across countries, in meat and processed fruits and vegetables Tunisia and Algeria are the countries with higher proportion of peaks and Egypt has the least number of peaks.
Another investigation was the assessment of the trade preferences between Morocco and the EU following the recent revision of the Association Agreement. Results suggest that the last review of the Agricultural Agreement between Morocco and the EU has increased significantly the value of the potential transfers granted to Morocco in certain fruits and vegetables. The assessment has included the methodology of simulating trade effects through partial equilibrium models. The simulations evaluate expected variations occurring according to every scenario, compared to the baseline scenario including average trade data and prices for the period 2007-2009. Results show that full market access for Morocco’s horticultural exports would boost exports, undermining exports from other partners in tomatoes and intra-EU sales. In other products, eliminating the EU tariffs faced by Morocco would not alter domestic prices in the EU to a significant extent.
In addition, specific work on trade liberalization was conducted by country teams in the cases of Tunisia and Turkey. For the former, simulations of the potential impacts of trade liberalization on the Tunisian fruit and vegetable exports to the European Union showed that significant gains could result from such liberalization for Tunisia as well for the EU. For Turkey, three working papers were prepared re. “Modelling effects of unilateral, bilateral and multilateral liberalization in agricultural sector in EU-Med area”; “Modelling distributional effects of unilateral and bilateral liberalization in agricultural sector in Turkey”, and “Finding contribution of non-tariff measures on agricultural trade cost between EU-Med countries”.
The implications of these results for the European Neighbourhood policy in the Mediterranean region are important. Given the magnitude of the poverty challenge discussed above and drawing on our results just discussed, it is clear that trade liberalization alone will not be sufficient to alleviate the urgent need for new jobs for rural youth in MPCs, which lack infrastructure, education, sanitation, human rights and peace. Thus trade liberalization in MPC must be accompanied by increased development aid, support to civil society, and immigration policy with a medium-term perspective. And it is necessary for the EU to support these efforts. Accordingly, in the field of agriculture and rural development, the ENPARD initiative is welcome, given the meager real attention given to the rural sector in past cooperation programs. But we know that the promotion of rural development is very difficult everywhere in the world. The SUSTAINMED project did not study the mechanisms involved and conditions for success of such efforts. But several remarks can be made at this stage: the monitoring and evaluation of ENPARD projects will be very important in order to draw effectively the lessons, both positive and negative from these experiences. Similarly, important lessons can be learnt from LEADER projects in Europe. Current efforts to support cooperation among civil society organizations, notably farmer organizations, seem encouraging. Here again lessons identifying best practices need to be learnt. In addition, there is a huge scope for closer collaboration in the field of agricultural research and education, with some known good practices, notably in CIHEAM or in like Tempus.
Finally, much more could be done by the private sector, particularly in terms of Foreign Direct investments (FDI) and adaptation to public and private norms to be respected for accessing to the European market. Here, there are enough successful experiences and the conditions for success are known.
The potential impact of SUSTAINMED could be very significant, not so much because of the originality of the scientific insights gained but because of the topicality, relevance, and urgency of the policy lessons learnt. Admittedly, many of these lessons had been formulated before in one form or another. But it is their robustness which is striking. The main merit of our project may be the contribution to this robustness of the conclusions. In summary, rural poverty remains a major problem which can and must be tackled more effectively through a re-examination of the intellectual foundations of past policies; sustainability issues are serious, worrisome for the long term and not adequately addressed by existing public policies so far, because the social and environmental dimensions are not given sufficient attention; trade liberalization alone will not be sufficient to promote sustainable development in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries and the European Neighbourhood policy must give much more attention to the core issues of long term rural development than it has done so far. Of course, the impact of the SUSTAINMED project will greatly depend on the extent to which these results are disseminated, accepted, and taken on board by a wide range of public and private actors.
For dissemination, several important activities have been initiated: the project website, which admittedly has served mainly as an internal communication tool, has been maintained and it continues to work. In addition, several workshops, seminars, and meetings were held in several countries. In addition meetings with government officials and other stakeholders were held in Tunisia (July 2012) and in Morocco (April 2013). Political events in Turkey and in Egypt prevented us from organizing similar meetings in these two countries. We had hoped to organize one in Egypt in October 2013; the current turmoil, at the time of writing this report, suggests that the probability of doing so may be small. The meetings were intended to promote a process of “deliberative consultations”, as foreseen in the original project document. But the social and cultural situation as well as the nature of the policy process in MPCs and in Turkey may be such that our original idea of ‘deliberative consultations’ was somewhat utopian. Yet, the two meetings in Tunisia and in Morocco were very interesting and instructive. In both cases the guests, i.e. nationals not involved in the Sustainmed project, expressed great satisfaction. Apparently, they appreciated the opportunity to discuss openly, in front of and with foreigners, issues which they view as important and which they may not have many opportunities to debate otherwise.
A final project meeting was held in Brussels in May 2013. This gave an interesting opportunity for fruitful exchanges with Commission officials and a few other stakeholders. In addition, most project results were presented to an academic audience at an EAAE (European Association of Agricultural Economists) seminar, organized in June 2013 in Chania by our MAICH partner. We had a special SUSTAINMED session where presentations were made and discussed. The content of these presentations has been, or will be, used to write chapters of a book, to be published by SPRINGER in 2014, entitled “The challenges of sustainable agricultural development in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries”, which will synthesize the main results of SUSTAINMED. Chapters have been prepared and an editing committee, based on the project steering committee, has been appointed.
List of Websites:
The contact details' list is provided in the attached document.