The Network of Farmers in Mediterranean Irrigated Systems (RIM by its French acronym) is a pilot project that was initiated focusing on farmers’ vocational training for water savings. The initiative also focused on the development of agricultural value chains, to the beneﬁt of family farmers’ organizations in the Maghreb region. Two phases of the project have been carried out in Morocco (phase 1: 2008- 2009 and phase 2: 2010-2011), while in Algeria, the ﬁrst phase was between 2010-2011. Innovative training methods have been implemented i.e. participative diagnosis to identify the needs of farmers, validation and partnership with existing networks of farmers and producers’ organizations. More so, involvement of trainers from various backgrounds, and setting up of training sessions by farmers themselves.
The RIM methodology relies on:
- training based on a participative diagnosis allowing to identify and support the formulation of farmers’ needs for training;
- an iterative reflection and a systematic educational evaluation of training sessions;
- the involvement of trainers from various backgrounds: farmers themselves (training by peers), researchers, private sector, consultancy firms;
- farmers’ organizations progressively taking charge of the setting up of training sessions.
This method is a collective and voluntary construction based on exchanges of knowledge and know-how between peers. It is first a posture that recommends a joint construction of knowledge, an active involvement of existing social, professional, and cultural networks, and a support adapted to farmer’s needs and accepted by them.
The RIM project results from the collaboration of various actors:
- farmers’ organizations in Maghreb. In Morocco, farmers’ organizations involved in the training programs are gathered in the association Raccord (Réseau d’accompagnement des coopératives et organisations rurales de développement). French farmers (e.g. the Chambre d’Agriculture du Lot) have also been associated to the project, for exchanging experience with their counterparts from Maghreb;
- research institutes involved in the water sector in the south and the north of the Mediterranean area: Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknès (Morocco), Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique d’Alger (Algeria), Cemagref, Cirad, Montpellier SupAgro-Institut des Régions Chaudes, Unité Mixte de Recherche G-eau (France);
- the FARM foundation and AFEID (French Committee of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage), who support the project in terms of coordination, expertise, implementation of pilot projects and dissemination of results;
- consultancy firms specialised in developing participative approaches for family agriculture: Cap Rural (Morocco), El Itkane (Algeria), Lisode (France).
These institutions combine their fields of competence and their resources, which are complementary, at various steps of the project, in particular for the design and implementation of pilot training sessions, and the dissemination of results.