Grassland Restoration GRASS

Gearing Resources in Agriculture toward Sustainable farming Systems in the Maghreb (GRASS)

GRASS is the continuation of the Perennial Forage project.

FP7 Specific Programme: Cooperation. Theme: Environment (including Climate Change)
Topic: ENV.2009. Desertification process and land degradation


In the Maghreb the decrease in rain use efficiency (RUE) of rainfed farming systems greatly contributes to desertification. Decades of combating desertification have privileged biophysical techniques. Stakeholders now realise that for these techniques to work, they need articulate them with socio-economic and cultural realities. To define this articulation bottom-up, participatory approaches thus bring together various stakeholder groups (essentially land users opposing land non-users). But two problems hinder progress with a participatory approach: (1) ineffective learning between stakeholder groups and (2) lack of dialogue.

The main objective of GRASS is to (1) enhance learning between land users and non-users through (2) organised dialogue. GRASS's centrepiece is a spatial loop of 14 dialoguing events, starting and ending at grassroots levels. At each event, stakeholders will engage into a dialogue: essentially opposing users versus non-users but also researchers versus other professions and local versus non-local decisionmakers, following a specific dialogue facilitation technique of small focus groups. This dialoguing will lead to four types of output, which are cross-validated many times throughout the life of GRASS: (1) highquality scientific papers of selected experts, (2) rainfed farming system typologies (DEV-method), (3) problems of those farming systems (problem tree method) and (4) typologies of the stakeholders' views on those problems (Q-method).

Dialoguing is followed by a documentary team that will produce documentaries which will become key input to dialoguing events at ensuing levels. As dialoguing proceeds through the spatial loop, event output will be aggregated up to the level of the Maghreb. Feeding back the output to the project's original grassroots groups will close the loop. A final GRASS Action Plan will detail at three levels (Maghreb, countrywide and grassroots) the most promising articulations between RTD and social demands.