The dynamic of crop-livestock systems in the Mediterranean and future prospective at local level: A comparative analysis for South and North Mediterranean systems
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Mediterranean livestock farming systems have evolved to adapt to current and future pressures, including strong demographic growth and urbanization in the coastal zone, greater competition for land and water, and a big shift in the hinterland where farming activities are hardly maintained. We aim to explore future pathways for integrated crop-livestock systems in South and North Mediterranean countries to identify potential sustainable increases in efficiency and adaptability of resource utilization. The research was conducted in three countries, Egypt, France and Morocco, through case studies in a gradient of socio-ecological contexts, from favorable (plains and irrigated lands) to harsher ones (mountains, rain-fed areas). We mobilized farm surveys and monitoring, open-ended interviews, databases and previous studies. Based on a transversal analysis at the local level, we identified two main trends and five archetypical systems: (1) a centrifugal trend of specialization, towards cash crops or dairy herds in favorable areas, and pastoral system for meat production in harsher environments, and (2) a centripetal trend of diversification based on mixed crop-livestock systems in irrigation areas and agro-pastoral livestock-crop systems in intermediate rain-fed areas. The analysis showed an overwhelming antagonism between social vulnerability and ecological efficiency. Crop and livestock integration reduced the risk of biodiversity loss and low environmental efficiency observed in specialized systems, but mixed systems were more socially vulnerable. Those results call for dedicated rural development policies that favor the diversification as a lever of sustainable development but taking into account the land fragmentation and developing higher value added products chains. Taking advantage of spatial mobility abilities of livestock farming at the regional level, promoting collective actions must be encouraged to allow a wider range of livestock farmers in the hinterlands to live from their activities.