Baseline Analysis of the Production and Livelihood Systems of Meknes-Saies Region of Morocco
This report is a baseline study providing a description and analysis of the production system in three sites in the Meknes-Saies region of Morocco. The study is based on randomly selected sample of 508 farming households selected form three sites in the two provinces of Elhajeb and Meknes. The selected sites represent geographically diverse landscapes: plains and mountains; and production systems: rainfed and irrigated; and intensive and extensive. The region is mainly rainfed systems but with increasing irrigation where ground water is accessible. The government to Morocco is undertaking an ambitious program of supporting agricultural intensification (The Moroccan Green Plan) and this region because of its relatively better endowments (rainfall about 500 mm) is an important focus of this program. However, the issue of concern to agricultural research and development is the long term sustainability of that intensification. This study, therefore, provides understanding of current production and livelihood systems for policy making and baseline data and analysis that could be used as future reference for assessing the impact of research and development outcomes. This descriptive baseline report provides information on key indicators, which are briefly stated in this brief. Illiteracy: high level of no schooling leading to illiteracy was recorded about 37-40% of the surveyed household and that was higher among women. Demography: The household size was about 7 persons per household with 3-5 below 14 years old. Land fragmentation: overall average land holding was 8.9 ha with only 1.5 ha irrigated, and land is mostly privately owned land, mainly by men, with only 6% of the women land ownership reported. There are also military land (guich) and state land leased to farmers. The main problem is land fragmentation with plots being continuously split for siblings through inheritance. One third of the surveyed households have 2 hectares or less. These are the most vulnerable households which need specific attention in rural development programs. The Moroccan Government realizes this problem and is implementing a program of aggregation encouraging some kind of collective action to take advantage of the economy of scale. Land use: Overall land is mainly dominated by cereals (mainly wheat) and food legumes, but there has been marked increase in fruit trees, onions and potatoes. The increase of these high value crops coincides with the expansion of irrigation and government programs promoting high value crops. This is something that should be further investigated to measure the economics of these high value corps against the natural resources so that sustainable intensification options can be identified. Income: Agriculture is the main income source with a share of 33-60% of the household income, depending on the agricultural resources base and availability of irrigation. Agricultural income comes from rainfed crops 34%, irrigated crops 33% and livestock 18%. Off farm income contribute on the whole at 12% of the income. However, these shares depend on the household type with small holder farms who depend more off-farm income. On the whole 42% of the households reported to have at least one person (mainly male) working and earning off-farm work, only 4% of the households reported female working off-farm which could be under-reporting due to cultural reasons. Poverty: The data show that 22.5% of the households earn USD 1 or less per person per day, 45% earn USD2 or less per person per day. Assuming a poverty line of USD1.2 per person per day, we estimate that 27.4% of the households have income levels that fall below that poverty line. Vulnerability: The four most important sources of vulnerability identified by surveyed farmers are climate related: drought (53%), hail storms (27%), temperature fluctuation with unexpected heat or cold (20%), untimely rains (12%), also crop failure (16%) which may be related to climate factors and animal diseases (11%). Adaptation: However, farmers reported adaptation measures against these shocks were not very informative with the majority of farmers doing nothing (55% when they face drought, while some reported selling livestock (20) and few shifting to nonfarm employment. These strategies were distinct for larger farms over 20 hectares who opted for selling livestock as adaptation strategy while smallholders below 2 hectares opted for selling livestock or shifting to nonfarm employment. This indicates that climate change will lead to exodus from agriculture accelerating rural-urban migration. This is a critical linkage between the agricultural sector and the wider economy. However, from the survey farmers awareness on adaptation strategies to climate change seems low. More research and communication is needed to make farmers awareness of adaptation options.