Farmers in Eastern Morocco Reduce Water Usage by 60%, Save Money and Time

Oct 1, 2012

Oujda, Morocco (October 1, 2012) — Some farmers in Morocco’s Oriental region have reduced their water usage by 60% or more through simple, low-tech drip irrigation technologies introduced by the Near East Foundation and its local partners.

In this vitally important agricultural region, farmers are struggling to cope with increasing drought and a decreasing water supply – which threaten their production and their future.

Up to 60% of water is lost through seepage in Morocco’s generations-old traditional canal irrigation systems.

Farmers are finding alternatives through NEF’s USAID-funded Agricultural Water Management project, which is introducing simple solutions – like drip irrigation – to help farmers overcome water shortages in one of the poorest and most water-scarce regions of the country.

The project raises awareness about water conservation and introduces farming techniques that increase productivity and profits with less water. NEF and its partners provide ongoing technical assistance to farmers so that they can install and operate the new technologies.

“Before I needed three full basins of water to irrigate my land,” said Tbatit Lakhder Mohamed, a farmer in the village of Laayat where he grows peas, beans, and potatoes. After receiving training, Mohamed purchased and installed drip irrigation on the land. “Now irrigating is much easier for me – and I need only one basin of water for the same parcel.”

In addition to a significant 66% water savings, Mohamed has reduced the time and energy he spends filling the trenches between each planting row with furrow irrigation.

In a community where people are cautious about taking new risks, he is serving as an example to his neighbors of how to mitigate the impact of growing water scarcity. Based on Mohamed’s experience, at least 20 others in his village are now mobilizing to install their own systems.

Created for arid and semi-arid areas, drip lines are capable of delivering controlled amounts of water directly to the plant roots. Drip improves over traditional canal irrigation by reducing the volume of irrigation water needed in fields, eliminating water losses from concrete cracks or unlined channels, and avoiding problems associated with overwatering.

Agriculture is the most important economic activity in the Oriental region. There is great unmet potential to increase production by small farmers, allowing them to transition to market-oriented production and to increase their income. However, the impacts of climate change and of inefficient, labor-intensive traditional irrigation techniques present serious constraints to achieving this potential.

During the two-and-a-half year project, NEF and its partners aim to provide 2,500 farmers in 22 villages with training in efficient water management and to help them increase agricultural production through simple, accessible new technologies.

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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