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Squaring the circle : agricultural intensification vs. water conservation in Morocco

  • Molle, François
  • Tanouti, O.
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
Horizon / Pleins textes
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Drip irrigation is widely promoted as a means of saving water. In Morocco, where the current annual overdraft of aquifers is around 1 billion m3 drip has been promoted, with subsidies as high as 100%, as a means of both raising productivity and rural incomes and 'saving' over one billion of m3. The paper shows that in the conditions of Morocco, drip tends to be associated with higher crop density, a shift to more water-intensive crops, and the reuse of 'saved water' to expand cultivated areas, resulting in higher water consumption. The Green Morocco Plan not only subsidizes conversion to drip but also the expansion of intensive farming, with an impact on water resources opposite to what is announced. We evidence contradictions in official discourses and policies and show how current policies undermine the resilience of irrigated agriculture to extreme drought events. Planning is carried out based on illusory local savings, disregards climate change projections, and runs against hydrologic realities that should be better accounted for through more elaborate water budgets.

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