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Policy Paper

Short of Water and Under Increasing Pressure to Deliver Food Security: Key Policy Considerations - The Case of the Kingdom of Morocco
May 3, 2023

For over six decades, Morocco has largely equated the achievement of food self-sufficiency (FSS) in ‘strategic’ food commodities to achieving food security. Successive governments have succeeded in guaranteeing the availability of and access to these commodities for the poor and vulnerable. In so doing, they have maintained social stability by fulfilling a basic social contract with the people. This is a major achievement, but the financial, economic, and environmental costs of this FSS approach are enormous.

Morocco is now under increasing pressure to revisit these costs under the existential threat of climate change. Water scarcity, is of course, not a new problem for Morocco, a semi-arid country, but climate change threatens to turn water scarcity into a water crisis. Although governments have invested heavily in dams, irrigation infrastructure, and micro-irrigation technologies, and have succeeded in building a significant irrigated agriculture sector; recurrent droughts still have major adverse impacts on GDP growth and the livelihoods of the smallholder majority, most of the poor and vulnerable in rural areas. Despite the substantial achievements of the Plan Maroc Vert with irrigated agriculture, Moroccan agriculture is still dualistic. Rainfed agriculture still occupies 80% of the cultivated area, employs most of the agricultural workforce, and is relied on by the majority of smallholders most of whom are still involved in low-productivity farming.