Managing nitrate pollution in a Tunisian irrigated area: A multi-criteria analysis approach

In Tunisia, the extension of irrigated area is justified by its important role in the development and diversification of agricultural production. Nevertheless, the strong intensification of the agricultural activities may lead to the pollution of underground water resources due to an excess use of fertilisers and other chemical products. In fact, the high nitrate concentrations observed in some Tunisian irrigated areas, are related to the excessive use of nitrate fertilizers in intensive agriculture. The objective of the present study is to implement decision-making methods allowing a better combination of factors production by optimization of an economic objective and an environmental objective. This research is based on multi-criteria modelling through the optimization of two conflict objectives: an economic objective as settled by farmer in the short or medium-run (Gross margin), and an environmental objective (nitrate pollution reduction) as a long-run objective of the decision maker in order to ensure the continuity of agriculture activities and ecosystems sustainability. Data were collected through a survey conducted in the irrigated area of Kalaât El Andalous in Tunisia with a sample containing 57 farms. Efficient solutions were obtained and compared through the "constraints", "NISE" and "compromises" methods. Main results obtained indicate a significant degree of conflict between these two objectives. Indeed the maximization of the total gross margin involves an increase in the degrees of nitrate pollution and conversely. Finally, some policy implications are presented.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-22

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