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Comparative assessment of irrigation systems’ performance: Case study in the Triffa agricultural district, NE Morocco

A. Alonso, N. Feltz, F. Gaspart, M. Sbaa and M. Vanclooster

Agricultural Water Management, 2019, vol. 212, issue C, 338-348

Abstract: Programs targeting conversion to irrigation techniques promoted as water-efficient, such as drip irrigation, are multiplying worldwide with the claimed objective to secure food production while alleviating the pressure on water resources. However, there is a persisting and widespread questioning about the actual impact when implementing the techniques in the real-world context, particularly in smallholder farms. We propose a framework to support an integrated assessment of the impact on farm holding performance resulting from the conversion towards a new irrigation technique. It is implemented for a 4030 ha agricultural district in the Triffa plain of NE Morocco where increasing number of farms are changing surface to drip irrigation. The indicators within the framework are calculated using survey data from a sample of 25 farm holdings collected in 2012 and 2013. The survey data are enriched with institutional data and data estimated from hydrologic modeling. The results indicate that, in the study area, farmers engaging with drip irrigation are mainly motivated by social factors, while most environmental and economic indicators are signaling a neutral or undesirable effect resulting from the conversion to drip irrigation. These results question the relevance of the water use reduction objective underlying the ongoing national plan “Plan Maroc Vert” (PMV) that aims converting up to 50% of irrigated agricultural land in drip irrigation, and call for a stronger appropriation of this water-saving objective by the farm holders. However, limited data availability and quality did not allow to firmly demonstrate the robustness of the findings. This severe data constraint revealed the difficulty to assess the socio-eco and environmental impact of such irrigation plan in the study area, and highlights the need for a data collection, centralization, and sharing effort. Conditioned to a strong reduction in data uncertainty, the framework methodology proposed in this study can serve as a practical reference for other studies seeking for an integrated assessment of irrigation management changes.

Keywords: Surface irrigation; Drip irrigation; Irrigation performance; Irrigation efficiency; Integrated assessment framework; Green Morocco plan (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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