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Maghreb farmers trained to use water wisely



Is it possible to reduce agricultural water use by 50% while maintaining production in family-run farms in Morocco and Algeria? A long-term, cooperative action rises to the challenge.



Water-retention techniques, drip irrigation for an increasingly scarce water supply…the farmer must be able to continue production during his training period (MN Photo)
Water-retention techniques, drip irrigation for an increasingly scarce water supply…the farmer must be able to continue production during his training period (MN Photo)
THE MEDITERRANEAN. For two years, around four hundred farmers have been receiving training in water-use efficiency in Algeria and Morocco. Characterised by self-assessment and a spirit of cooperation, the experiment is set to extend to Tunisia, as it meets an essential criterion for the farmers concerned: investment time is low enough to enable them to continue to produce.    

RIM, the Network of Farmers’ Organisations in Mediterranean countries, is a training project for efficient methods of agricultural irrigation. It affects farmers in the Moroccan regions of the Gharb, Middle Sebou, Tadia, Doukkala and Sousse and Mitidja and Lower Cheliff in Algeria.    

The process was initiated by farmers’ organisations in both countries. They were faced with a complete lack of knowledge on how to save water, in a context of growing scarcity. Their cooperation has helped create the Raccord (Connection) Association in Morocco, who managed the process.   These courses began in 2008 with a hundred farmers, and have helped to develop a methodology based on the participation of farmers themselves to define training needs, then evaluate the sessions. Drip irrigation, the value placed on cooperation in irrigated systems, planning, management and funding a water-conservation policy have kept trainers busy during the first three years.


Half the water by 2020

Water-scarcity, a growing population, meeting this challenge requires training (Photo MN)
Water-scarcity, a growing population, meeting this challenge requires training (Photo MN)
The system will now expand its audience. From experience, RIM is the solution. In Morocco, RIM will seek to implement training dedicated to community projects on water conservation, from inception to implementation. In Algeria, training will benefit new farmers in other regions. Finally, in Tunisia a study has been launched to verify that RIM reflects local needs.  

The project, developed by the World Water Forum (Marseille, from 12th to 17th March 2012), is part of its No. 1 priority, which is access to water. They aim to halve the number of small farmers without access to water for farming or training, by 2020.     

In addition to farmers’ associations in Morocco and Algeria, the project has enlisted the help of the Chambre d’Agriculture du Lot (Lot-et-Garonne Chamber of Agriculture), France, the National School of Agriculture in Meknès, Morocco, l’Ecole Nationale  Supérieure Agronomique d’Alger, Cemagref and CIRAD, in France, as well as the Institute of Warm Regions and various associations related to water and agriculture in France and the Maghreb. The collaboration will probably result in innovation in terms of appropriate training, on both sides of the Mediterranean.    

If drip irrigation technology in agricultural water-conservation is still highly prized, it remains expensive, and therefore an increase in production, which is required to make a profit on the equipment, is essential. A real challenge, indeed.


Version française

Michel Neumuller


Tuesday, October 30th 2012



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