Establishing farm typologies in dryland areas: the case of Saïs, Morocco
Agriculture is a major sector of the economy in southern Mediterranean countries. Nowadays, in many of these countries, agriculture accounts for no less than 12% of the total GDP (FAO, 2006). The increase in production in the region however cannot always meet the food requirement of the southern Mediterranean population, which is expected to rise by more than 65% between 1990 and 2020 (Mediterra, 2008). Indeed, today, the cereal imports of southern Mediterranean countries are estimated at 12% of global cereal imports, while these countries merely account for 4% of the world population. Similarly, since the beginning of the sixties, cereal imports have increased by 21 fold in Algeria, 20 fold in Morocco, 13 fold in Tunisia and 4 fold in Egypt (Fao, 2006). These trends should continue to increase in the years to come in order to meet the food requirements of their respective populations. In this context, states are will need to further intensify agricultural production so as to meet the food needs of populations. Nevertheless, this intensification ought to be moderate and carried out without increasing the pressure on natural resources. The current state of water and land resources in the Mediterranean region shows, in several cases, an alarming and irrational use of resources. The Mediterranean area presents fragile and limited water resources, and agriculture constitutes the biggest share (64%) in total water demand, 82% of which is concentrated in the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean (Ait Kadi et al., 2008). The purpose of the current article is to develop a consistent typology of farm households to assess and categorize the diversity of the farmers’ strategies in the Saïs plain, Morocco. Its aim is to show how farmers in the Saïs plain make their choices depending not only on the ecosystems cultivated, the main production factors and the objectives of their production (market oriented vs. self-consumption oriented), but also their implications on water, nitrate and labour production system efficiencies. This study was carried out as part of the CRP-DS programme aimed at developing a decision-support tool to help boost sustainable intensification in the dray land areas (CGIAR, 2013).