Irrigation: a proactive policy is needed in the face of limited water resources (minister)

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Irrigation: a proactive policy is needed in the face of limited water resources (minister)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 18:59 Rabat – The challenges linked to limited water resources highlight the need for a proactive policy to better rationalize irrigation water, the Minister of Agriculture said Tuesday in Rabat , sea fishing, rural development, water and forests, Aziz Akhannouch. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Chamber of Advisors, devoted to the national water strategy 2009-2020, the Minister stressed that the Kingdom has accumulated substantial gains, thanks to the proactive policies initiated by the late SM Hassan II to guarantee water security. As an extension of this orientation, he said, the Green Morocco Plan (PMV) has placed water recovery and saving at the forefront of its structuring programs, in execution of the directives of HM King Mohammed VI. . In this regard, a series of worksites have been initiated to generalize water saving techniques, expand irrigated areas and ensure the upgrading of irrigated perimeters, he stressed, specifying that the irrigation works of the PMV covered 850,000 irrigated hectares (over 50% of the national irrigated area), for a public investment of nearly 40 billion DH. These projects have benefited 250,000 farmers, over 90% of whom are smallholder farmers. These unprecedented efforts also concerned the expansion of the area equipped with localized irrigation to reach 630,000 Ha, or 39% of the irrigated area at the national level, he added. In terms of complementarity between dam projects and hydro-agricultural equipment, the Minister indicated that all the agricultural dams constructed or under construction during the 2008-2020 period have been provided with upstream irrigation perimeters. For this purpose, 17 irrigation perimeters were created over an area of ​​82,300 Ha, from which 30,000 farmers benefit. In the same context, he reported on a large-scale project aimed at coping with the overexploitation of the water table in Chtouka, with a view to establishing an advanced irrigation system. Among the indicators obtained in this regard, the government official cited the economy and the recovery of approximately 2 billion m3 of water each year, recalling that the irrigation schemes benefited last year from less than 40% of parts reserved for irrigation during a normal year. Despite all the difficulties, irrigated areas which represent 16% of the cultivable area contribute the equivalent of half of agricultural value added for an average year, he said. These zones represent 75% of agricultural exports in volume, just as they generate 40% of employment opportunities in rural areas.