THE 5TH AFICAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE
International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) organizes regional conferences at four regions of the world – African Region, European Region, Asian Region, and Pan- American Region. The African Regional Conference (ARC) series was started with the first one held on Drainage in April 2004 in Cairo, Egypt. The Second African Regional Conference took place in November 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The third ARC on irrigation and drainage was organized in Bamako, Mali in December 2011. The 4th conference on irrigation and drainage was held in Aswan, Egypt in April 2016. The 5thARC presented in this first bulletin will be hosted by Moroccan National Committee of ICID (ANAFIDE) during 16-19 March 2020 in Marrakech, Morocco.
The geographical situation of Morocco is at the origin of the climatic constraints that it undergoes and the trumps of pluviometry and hydrological advantages compared to the other countries of North Africa. The Mediterranean climate of Morocco makes it a country characterized by a great temporal and spatial irregularity of the precipitations. 80% of the national territory receives less than 400 millimeters per year. The potential of natural water resources is estimated at 20 billion cubic meters per year including 4 billion cubic meters of underground water resources. The area of Morocco is of the order of 71 million hectares. Land with soil and hygrometric conditions suitable for cultivation represents only 13% of the total area with nearly 9 million hectares (useful agricultural area). With regard to the water resources that can be mobilized for the development of irrigation, the areas irrigable perennially are 1 million 360 thousand hectares plus 300 thousand hectares of seasonal irrigation and spreading floodwaters.
Since the advent of its independence, Morocco has intimately linked its economic and social development to the control of water resources and the development of irrigation. The year 1967 is considered as a reference in this area with the advent of the objective of irrigating 1 million hectares by the year 2000 and the launch of the dam policy in Morocco.
Although it covers only 16% of the useful agricultural area, irrigated agriculture contributes about 45% of agricultural value added on average, up to 70% during dry years. In addition, irrigated areas account for 75% of the volume of agricultural exports, provide employment in rural areas, contribute to the improvement of farmers’ incomes, to the living conditions of rural dwellers, and have a significant impact on Agribusiness sector.
The Green Morocco Plan puts the issue of water in front of the most important transversal reforms and has identified 4 main issues with regard to the water issue. (i) the development of means for mobilizing conventional and unconventional water resources; (ii) the development of water resources allocated to irrigation; (iii) the introduction of a highly incentive-based pricing system for the economy and the valuation of water; (iv) a policy of proactive management of demand, particularly agricultural water through the activation of a real water police, the generalization of water-saving techniques, the focus on crops maximizing the value of the water used, etc. To respond to these challenges, three structural programs are implemented: (a) the national water saving program for irrigation, (b) the irrigation extension program, (c) the Public Partnership program -Private in irrigation.