By O. Berkat and M. Tazi
[The graphics and data in this profile have been provided by the authors and the designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries].
The Kingdom of Morocco is situated in the north west
of the continent of Africa, between latitudes 21° - 36º N and longitudes
1° - 17º W. The country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the West
(2,934 km from Cap Spartel in the North to Lagwira in the South), the
Mediterranean sea on the North (512 km from Saidia in the East to Cap
Spartel in the West). It is bordered in the East and South by
Figure 1. Map of Morocco
[FAO Editorial Note: the status of Western Sahara remains unresolved and was the subject of a proposed UN Agreement on the Status of Western Sahara in 2001].
According to the 1994 census, the population was 26,100,000. The population growth rate during the 1984-94 period was 2.06 percent, lower than the 2.6 percent recorded in 1974-84. Presently, the population growth rate is 1.7 percent. Population estimates for 2002 and 2003 were 29,630,000 and 31,600,000, respectively and according to the World Factbook the population in July 2006 was estimated at 33,241,259 with a growth rate of 1.55%.
Most of the population is concentrated in the north-western areas. Urbanization is over 50 percent presently, contrasting strongly with a level of 30 percent in 1970. Large cities include Casablanca (3.1 million) which is the largest industrial, commercial and financial centre, Rabat-Salé (1.2 million) which is the capital, Marrakech, Fès, Méknès, Tétouan, Oujda and Agadir each have hundreds of thousands of inhabitants.
The country’s history is very ancient as attested by numerous prehistoric and historic monuments and artefacts. In historical time, the country has seen a number of invaders and civilisations: Phoenicians, Berber, Carthaginians, Romans, Vikings. The Arab conquest came in 681.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy since it contributes 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to half of the active labour force. It has benefited as a priority investment sector by the Government during the last four decades. As a result of this policy, 92 large dams have been built with a total capacity of 14 billion cubic metres. This and other smaller infrastructure, has allowed the irrigation of some 1,200,000 hectares. Major irrigated areas are the Rharb and Loukkos in the NW, the Tadla in the centre north of the Atlas, the Haouz in the Marrakech region, the Souss-Massa in the Agadir region, the Ouarzazate and Tafilalet south of the Atlas, and the Low Moulouya in the Northeast.
However, agricultural production varies with the weather conditions and most crops are grown by subsistence farmers, but a modernized sector produces food for export. The main products include wheat, barley, pulses, vegetables, citrus fruit, olives and olive oil, figs, and dates. Agricultural exports include vegetables, citrus, olive oil and wine. Animal products are consumed locally, except for processed leather.
Fisheries is another important sector as it represents 55 percent of agricultural food exports and maintains some 400,000 jobs. Handicrafts contribute 10 percent to the GDP and offers jobs to about 1,500,000 people.
Tourism is of growing importance to the economy. With 2,500,000 tourists in 1999, it contributes 7.8 percent to the GDP, and helps maintain about 500,000 jobs.
Mining and energy represent 10 percent of the GDP.
A small manufacturing sector is growing and bringing export
revenues. Consumer goods and semi-finished goods now account for about
About 15 per cent of the labour force works abroad, mainly
in European countries such as
In an effort to stimulate economic growth, the government is selling more than a hundred state-owned enterprises and encouraging other economic reforms.
Land Area, Arable and Pastoral Areas. Land classification
Of the total cereal area, which covers 80 percent of arable land, 50 percent is sown to barley, 40 percent to bread and durum wheat and 9 percent to maize. Four percent of the arable land is sown to pulses, mainly fava bean, chickpeas, lentils and peas. The area under weedy fallow varies between 1,600,000 and 2,600,000 hectares and is more prevalent in the drier zones.
The Ruminant Sector. Generally, it is considered that only 18 percent of farmers gain their incomes solely from animal husbandry, but livestock constitutes a significant financial reserve for the majority of farmers, in particular for those who have difficult access to agricultural loans. It also ensures the production of manure necessary for the fertilization of the land and to yield improvement (mainly vegetables and citrus orchards). It is also used as draught power; it supplies the necessary raw materials (wool, skin, leather) to the leather and the craft industries, and plays a role in the transport of goods and of man (dromedaries in the south, mules in the mountains and horses and donkeys in the plain) It is also necessary to underline its socio-cultural role (horse and Fantasia, sheep and Eid El Adha).
There are about 2 700 000 cattle, 17 000 000 sheep and 5 300 000 goats in the country, in addition to 200 000 camels (FAO database only 36,000), 510 000 mules and 980 000 asses, producing some 300 000 tonnes of meat (with chicken and game meat the total is near to 600,000 tonnes) and more than 1.35 million metric tonnes of milk (Table 2). Up until 2000 Morocco imported more than 10-15,000 live cattle per year as well as 10 M chickens but numbers have declined as have beef and veal imports. Milk and milk product imports have increased from less than 200,000 M tonnes milk equivalents in the 1980s to nearly 400,000 tonnes in 2003/2004.
The Crop Sector. Farms are rather small (Table 3). Of the 1,500,000 holdings, the size classes are as follows: i) 4.3 percent are landless, very probably only keeping livestock; ii) more than 70 percent have less than 5 hectares; iii) only 4 percent have more than 20 hectares. The small farm size generally leads to diversified production (cereals, vegetables, livestock) but also to low income levels and high vulnerability to market forces and drought events.
In the agricultural sector, livestock production ranks second after cereals. It provides approximately 20 percent of the total of agricultural employment and contributes to the income of more than 80 percent of the rural population, especially small farmers. It also plays an important role in mitigating the impact of droughts. Of the 1.5 million farms in 1996, 1.1 million had a livestock production component (Table 4).
Major Topographic Features
The country has many rivers, mostly seasonal torrents, which, although unimportant for navigation, are used for irrigation and for generating electricity. The main rivers are the Moulouya, which drains into the Mediterranean Sea, the Sebou, the Bou Regreg, the Oum Rbia, the Tansift, and the Souss which flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
Major Soil Types
The dominant soil types in the main physiographic units are as follows (INRA 1967, Osrhiri, 1985, Berkat et al. 1999, MADRPM, 2000):
Figure 2. Soil map
Sources: MADRPM (2000)
|3. CLIMATE AND AGRO-ECOLOGICAL ZONES
- Saharan or desert, with annual rainfall less than 100 mm and erratic. Winter temperatures are mild along the Atlantic coast, but become cool some 10 km inland and cold further inland;
- Arid, with annual rainfall ranging from 100 mm to 400 mm. This concerns the southern fringe of the Atlas mountains, the Moulouya Valley, the Eastern High Plateaus, the Souss plain and the plains north of the Atlas. Winter temperature subdivisions vary from warm (Atlantic and Eastern Mediterranean coast), to temperate, cool and cold. This latter situation is encountered inland in portions of the Moulouya Valley, and more extensively on the Eastern High Plateaus;
- Semi-arid, with annual rainfall ranging from 400 mm to 600 mm. This concerns the major cereal regions such as the plains of Doukkala, Chaouia, Gharb, Saiss, as well as large portions of the Anti Atlas, High Atlas, Middle Atlas, Central Plateau, the Prerif zone and the Eastern part of the Rif mountain range. This large spatial extension translates also into a large diversity of winter temperature subtypes;
- Subhumid, with annual rainfall ranging from 600 to 800 mm, encountered within the mountain ranges of the Rif, the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and on localised coastal area (Western Mamora cork oak forest). As in the previous type, the winter subdivisions are also diverse;
- Humid, with annual rainfall greater than 800 mm within the Rif and the middle Atlas mountains.
Rainfall is variable within seasons and between years. It occurs mostly in autumn (October-November), winter (December) and spring (March-April). Mean annual rainfall ranges from less than 100 mm (Saharan bioclimate), to 1 200 mm (humid bioclimate).
Drought is the most important and dramatic manifestation of such variability. The country has witnessed the longest drought episode in its recent history (1979-1984, most of the 1990’s) causing impacts on agricultural production, on farm economics and sustainability, on systems of production (for example, more concentrates are being incorporated into livestock feeding), and on natural resources and environment (acceleration of degradation and resource depletion).
Extreme temperatures are attenuated in the coastal areas along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea, translating into bioclimate sub-types of warm and temperate winters. By contrast, in the inland, the temperatures are more extreme and winters can be quite cold (translating into bioclimate sub-types of temperate to cold winters) and the summers very hot. In the mountain ranges temperatures can drop to 0°F and highest mountain peaks in both the Atlas and Rif mountain ranges are snow capped throughout most of the year.
Figure 3. Rainfall Map
" Sources: MADRPM (2000)
The Eastern High Plateaux and Moulouya Valley: because of limited rainfall and generally shallow soils, most of the area is used as grazing for sheep and goats. However, the Moulouya valley has a number of irrigated areas, of which the largest is the perimeter of Low Moulouya where agricultural enterprises include citrus fruits, vegetables and dairy cattle. Cultivation is actively encroaching on grazing lands. This, and increasing grazing pressure, has induced a downward spiral of pasture degradation. A number of projects, some financed by IFAD (PDPEO, PDRTT) aim at improving the living conditions of the rural population in this area while improving the management of rangeland resources.
The Middle Atlas has a relatively high rainfall, except locally. This has resulted in a well developed natural vegetation cover (grazing land and forests) accounting for more than 70 percent of land use. Crops represent less than 30 percent of the land area (mainly cereals, pulses, and fruit trees in the irrigated valleys). Most farming is of a subsistence type, based on crops and livestock (sheep, goats and some cattle).
The Rif is diverse in terms of rainfall and land forms. This translates into a diversity in land use. Thus, cropland varies from 23 percent (Chefchaouen) to 76 percent (Taounate). Cereals represent more than 50 percent of the cropland. Fruit trees contribute 16 percent and are important in some areas (olives, figs, almonds). Pulses contribute 9 percent. Very little forage is grown. Farms are subsistence type combining crops with livestock (sheep, goats and cattle) (Berkat et al. 1999).
The Loukkos area possesses an irrigated perimeter where vegetables, industrial crops, oil crops, orchards, forage and cereals contribute 29 percent, 25 percent, 25 percent, 8 percent, 6 percent, and 7 percent, respectively.
The Rharb area has also an important irrigated perimeter (100,000 ha) and rainfed agriculture (some 288,000 ha). Major crops in the irrigated perimeter are cereals (32 percent), industrial crops (19 percent), vegetables (16 percent), forages (11 percent), orchards (11 percent), pulses and oil crops. Agricultural enterprises are a mix of subsistence and large farms. Crops are combined with livestock (mostly sheep and cattle in small herds).
The Sais plateau is mostly concerned with rainfed agriculture. Major crops are cereals, orchards (olives, vineyards), pulses, forages and oil crops. Livestock is integrated with the crops (sheep and cattle in small herds).
The Mamora and Central Plateau are characterized by a land use where cropland and forest/rangelands represent 55 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Cereals are the dominant crop (68 percent), whereas forage crops, pulses and orchards contribute only 6 percent, 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively (Berkat et al. 1999). Farms are mostly small with less than five hectares, combining crops with livestock (cattle are well integrated with the crops, sheep on an agro-sylvo-pastoral system).
The Doukkala, Chaouia, and Abda plains are characterized by rainfall ranging from 300 to 400 mm, and by mild winters. However, the dry season is relatively long (May-October). Land use consists of some 80 percent cropland, and 20 percent forest/range. The cropping system consists of cereals (wheat, barley, maize: about 80 percent of the crop area), fallow (13 percent),vegetables, forages (3 percent), pulses and orchards. Vegetables, mainly tomatoes, represent an important activity, geared partly toward export. Livestock (cattle, sheep) is well integrated with crops. This zone is quite vulnerable to drought as most of the crops are rainfed. The Doukkala plain has an irrigated perimeter (some 61,000 ha) where cropping consists of cereals, industrial crops (sugar beet, cotton), forages and vegetables.
The plains and plateaux north of the Atlas are characterized by low and variable rainfall (200-350 mm). This and the fact that soils are shallow is a major constraint to agricultural productivity. Under rainfed conditions, about half of the land is used to grow crops, and the remainder are very degraded range. The cropping system is based on cereals, particularly barley, but also wheat and maize (80 percent). Farms are mostly of the subsistence type (more than half have less than five hectares) combining cereals and livestock (mostly sheep). Two irrigated perimeters are in this zone: at Haouz and Tadla. The cropping system of the Haouz is based on cereals, orchards (mostly olives), forages, vegetables, and some cotton and tobacco. In the Tadla perimeter, cropping is based on cereals, forages, orchards (olive and citrus fruit trees), sugar beet and cotton, and vegetables. Dairy cattle are well developed in this perimeter.
The Argan zone is also characterized with low and variable rainfall (170 to 285 mm) and mild winter temperatures. The dry season is quite long resulting in a short growing season. Crops, forest/range represent 30 percent and 70 percent of the land area, respectively. The cropping system is based on cereals (mostly barley), fallow, and some almond orchards. Farms are of the subsistence type in 75 to 90 percent of the cases (less than 5 ha). They combine barley cropping, some almond trees, vegetables and livestock (mainly goats) in association with the argan tree, and beekeeping. This zone has a high frequency of drought, and the argan tree plays an important role in drought mitigation by providing forage to goats and also by producing argan oil for local consumption and for sale. The Souss-Massa irrigated perimeter is in this zone. Its major crops are citrus fruits and vegetables, partly for export.
The High Atlas is characterized, despite its high elevations, by a modest level of rainfall (400 to 800 mm on the north slopes, 200 to 500 mm on the south-facing slopes). This level of rainfall, combined with shallow soils and steep slopes, and cold temperatures, translates into a short growing season and low productivity, except locally (valley terraces, high altitude rangeland). Forests/range occupy about 76 percent of the land area, whereas crops are limited to about 20 percent (mostly in lowlands and valleys). These valleys are intensively cropped. The cropping system is based on cereals (71 percent), forages (11 percent), orchards (7 percent), pulses, vegetables and fallow (6 percent). Farms are subsistence type with less than 5 ha, combining crops on terraces, and livestock (sheep and goats grazing on range, cattle integrated with crops).
The Presaharan zone is characterized by a very low (100 to 200 mm) and variable rainfall. Crops occupy only two percent of the land as they are mostly in valleys and oases. Most of the land is used for grazing sheep, goats, and some camels. Cropping is based on cereals, fallow, orchards (olive trees, date palms, fig trees, apple trees), forages and vegetables. Two irrigated perimeters are in this zone: the Ouarzazate perimeter and the Tafilalet perimeter.
The Saharan zone is characterized by a very low (less than 100 mm) and erratic rainfall. Thus, cropping is limited to irrigated areas, or areas receiving runoff. Main crops are cereals, forages and vegetables. However, the most important activity is extensive livestock production (goats, sheep, camels).
In the past, extensive and range based livestock allowed the country to satisfy its needs in terms of animal protein. With the extension of crops at the expense of grazing land, the development of irrigation and the rapid demographic growth, production systems that associate crops and livestock are expanding.
Under irrigation, dairy production has been developed and cultivated forages were the only way to provide the needed quantity and quality to sustain production in high performance animals.
Cattle Production Systems
Dairying with irrigation.This system is found in irrigated perimeters, especially large ones managed by the Offices Régionaux de Mise en Valeur Agricole (ORMVA). Its main characteristics are (Guessous 1991):
The feeding calendar varies according to the main forage
crop which could be either berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum) or
lucerne (Medicago sativa). Berseem, which is the main forage crop
in the areas of Rharb, Loukkos and to some degree in the Doukkala perimeter,
is used entirely as fresh cut-and–carry, during October to March or to
June (Guessous 1991). This system leaves the summer and autumn relatively
forage deficient if other forages are not used (lucerne,
Mixed system. This system is found in the most favourable zones under rainfed agriculture, or on the periphery of irrigated perimeters (Guessous 1991). It can be characterized by the absence (or very limited contribution) of irrigated forage crops compared to the previous system. However, it shares a number of characteristics with this system, namely, the use of improved breeds and the marketing of milk produced.
The feeding system is as follows (Guessous 1991): i) stubble grazing during June to August; ii) the use of straw from September to March, sometimes coupled with the use of oat/vetch hay; iii) grazing the fallow pastures during December to March; iv) grazing barley during January to February; and v) the use of concentrates including wheat chaff, dry sugar beet pellets, molasses, barley grain, especially in autumn and winter.
Forage crops are lucerne, berseem,
The contribution of forages in the feeding system is still relatively modest; it was estimated to be 28 percent, 21 percent, and 1 percent, in the Rharb, Tadla and Low Moulouya Valley, respectively (Guessous 1991), while the concentrates contribute 31 percent, 28 percent and 53 percent in the plains [straw and stubble 15, 44, 28; fallow + range 12, 3, 14].
Beef cattle. This system, based on local breeds, produces calves for fattening. Some milk, after the calf is fed, is consumed domestically, generally in small quantities, but is not sold. The system is found in areas of rainfed farming where the main crops are winter cereals or spring-sown maize (Guessous 1991). This system is at risk from drought.
Feeding is based on crop by-products, denoting a very high integration into the farming system. The feeding calendar in rainfed regions consists of (Guessous 1991): i) stubble grazing during June to October; ii) feeding hay and wheat and barley straw during the period September to March; iii) barley (light grazing of growing crop) during January and February; iv) feeding on weeds collected from the fields; v) grazing fallows during January to May. Grazing on natural pastures may also contribute up to five months in some regions.
Cultivated forages include: i) mixtures of cereals/legumes for hay; ii) barley as forage used as cut-and-carry green forage or grazed; iii) berseem in areas having relatively good rainfall (>450 mm); iv) annual medics for fallow improvement in a ley-farming system; but, this technology, which was introduced during the early nineteen-eighties, appears to be fading away, leaving the fallows without improvement.
When used in irrigated perimeters, this system benefits from a feeding calendar and forage resources comparable to those of the dairy cattle system (Guessous 1991). The differences may be in a greater use of range and fallow. The feeding calendar consists of : i) green lucerne as cut-and-carry from March to October; ii) lucerne hay from October to February; iii) stubble grazing during the summer; iv) straw all year long; v) range and fallow during February to April; vi) concentrates during September to April.
Sheep Production Systems
Four sheep breeds are well identified and are subject to selection programmes by the Association Nationale Ovine et Caprine (ANOC) in the so called “breed cradle zones”. These are Timahdit in the Middle Atlas and neighbouring zones, the Sardi in the plains north of the Atlas, the Beni Guil in the Eastern High plateaux, and the Dman of the oases (which does not use the range) (Kabbali and Berger 1990, Boujenane 1999).
Some lesser known breeds are used in other regions: the Beni Hsen in the Gharb and Loukkos regions, the predominant Boujjad in the region of Boujjaad, the Siroua and Sargho raised in the Anti Atlas.
Compared to sheep, goat breeds are less well studied. Three types can be distinguished: the Dman dairy goat of the oases, crosses with Spanish breeds in the north of the country, and the small local goat elsewhere.
There are three main systems defined according to the origin of the feed resources: i) pastoral system; ii) agro-pastoral system; iii) the oasis system.
The Pastoral System. In this system, the feeding calendar is dominated by grazing, up to 8-12 months of the year. Differences can be found according to agro-ecological zones. Thus, in the western and central plains and plateaux where the growing season ends early, range and fallows are used up to April-May, then the animals graze cereal stubble until the autumn rains. By contrast, in the Eastern High Plateaux, grazing on range dominates, with animals moving south in winter, and north in summer, or moved in the same area between alfa (Stipa tenacissima) (winter) to Artemisia herba alba and other shrub-dominated types (spring, summer and autumn). Stubble grazing takes place during July-August, but is variable because of the frequent impact of drought on cereal production. In the Atlas Mountains, range/forests are used at all seasons, although there may be some stubble used in the summer especially at altitudes below 1,500 metres. Higher altitudes (above 1,500 metres in the Middle Atlas, and more than 2,000 metres in the High Atlas) are used in the summer by transhumant herds coming from the lower lands of the mountain itself or in the adjacent plains. In the Southwest, grazing on forest land (Argania spinosa, Callitris and Juniper) occurs at all seasons with stubble used in rare wet years during April-June.
The feeding calendar also includes: i) straw (and hay), and concentrates (mostly barley) in autumn-winter, and periods of drought; ii) barley grazing iii) cut-and-carry branches of forest trees such as Quercus rodundifolia, Quercus suber, Juniperus spp., Fraxinus zanthoxyloides; iv) cut-and-carry shrubs and grasses such as alfa (Stipa tenacissima) in the arid ranges.
The Agro-pastoral system. This system is found in the irrigated perimeters outside the Saharan oases and in rainfed cereal regions. Its main characteristic is the relatively large farm contribution to feed resources, attaining 50 percent of the animal requirements (Guessous 1991). The feeding calendar consists of: i) grazing on range and fallow January to May; ii) stubble grazing June to October; iii) feeding cereal straw September to March.
Variations around this generalized scheme include: i) moving animals outside the irrigated perimeter for grazing on forest ranges or rented private pasture on fallow; ii) grazing growing barley iii) cut-and-carry berseem (Rharb) or lucerne (Tadla).
The Oasis System. This system is specific to the oases of the Saharan zones, mainly Tafilalet in the Ziz valley, Draa in the Draâ Valley, and the Figuig area in the southeast. Its characteristics include (Guessous 1991): i) highly productive irrigated agriculture on small units, generally not exceeding 1 to 2 hectares; ii) a sheep breed (D’man) which is very prolific, kept in small herds and penned almost all the time; iii) a feeding calendar where lucerne is the most important element.
The feeding calendar varies according to the growth of the lucerne: i) cut-and-carry lucerne during March to October, with other contributing sources including straw, barley, chaff, date by-products; ii) lucerne hay, in addition to straw and concentrates during November-February.
Figure 4. Map of Feed Resources
Sources: MARA (1986)
In addition to constraints to forage crops development (farm size, prices of concentrates as compared to those of forages and to animal products, research and extension limitations), other constraints have been described, particularly with respect to livestock production on rangelands (MARA 1993):
i) inadequate feeding is the major constraint responsible
for high mortality of young animals, and for growth and reproduction performances
well below the genetic potential. Inadequate feeding results from low
pasture productivity, inadequate use of crop residues, lack of producer
knowledge of the nutritional value feed and concentrates;
THE PASTURE RESOURCE
According to MARA (1986),
the main forage sources in
Small ruminants, on the other hand, rely more on natural pasture (more than 70 percent in some regions); iii) these estimated averages vary according to weather conditions in any given year. Thus, in a dry year, relatively more resources are contributed by natural pasture (which also results in increased grazing pressure and degradation) and grains ( which puts increased pressure on the economics and stability of the farms, particularly the most vulnerable ones). During a wet year, important sources include increased cereal yields), fallows, and grain ( due to increased barley production and thus increased availability to animal feeding).Natural pasture and pastoral ecosystems
Natural grazing land, in varying degrees of productivity and use, extend over some fifty three million hectares. Ten pastoral zones can be distinguished according to topography, climate, vegetation and use (MARA, 1992). These are: i) Zone 1: Eastern High Plateaux and the Moulouya Valley; ii) Zone 2: the Middle Atlas; iii) Zone 3: the High Atlas; iv) Zone 4: the Rif mountain and its borders; v) Zone 5: the Mamora and Central Plateau; vi) Zone 6: the plains and plateaux north of the Atlas mountains; vii) Zone 7: the Atlantic coastal meseta; viii) Zone 8: the Argan tree area; ix) Zone 9: Presaharan ecosystems; x) Zone 10: the Saharan ecosystems.
Rangeland ecosystems have been described and mapped for each zone (Berkat et al. 1992). The number of such ecosystems (scale 1/ 2 500,000) is 29, 17, 13, 9, 5, 9, 1, 7, 12, 12, for the respective pastoral zones 1 to 10.
Figure 5. Pastoral Zones
Sources: MADRPM (2000)
Ecosystems of the Eastern High Plateaux and
the Moulouya Valley
Major range ecosystems are:
ii) woodlands of the semi-arid, composed of Callitris articulata, Pistacia lentiscus, Stipa tenacissima, Rosmarinus officinalis, Cistus villosus, Lavandula multifida, Dactylis glomerata, Artemisia herba-alba, extending over some 200,000 hectares;
iii) halophytic steppes composed of Salsola foetida, Atriplex halimus, Stipa capensis covering some 115,000 hectares;
iv) steppes of the arid bioclimate with cold winters, in fair to deteriorated condition composed of Anabasis aphylla, Noaea mucronata, Peganum harmala, Artemisia herba-alba, Stipa capensis, Frankenia corymbosa, covering some 880,000 hectares;
v) steppes of the arid bioclimate with temperate winters, in a fair condition, composed of Artemisia herba-alba, Frankenia corymbosa, Noaea mucronata, Teucrium polium, Stipa capensis, Stipa parviflora. This type covers some 290,000 hectares.
vi) steppes of the arid bioclimate with cold winters, in fair to good condition, composed of Artemisia herba-alba, Stipa parviflora, Stipa barbata, extending over some 190,000 hectares;
vii) steppes of the piedmonts composed of Stipa tenacissima, Rosmarinus officinalis, Artemisia herba-alba, Thymus spp., Stipa parviflora, Stipa barbata. This type covers some 330,000 hectares;
viii)) alfa (Stipa tenacissima) steppes on varying soil types and substrates, and in varying ecological conditions, associated with species such as Thymus sp., Noaea mucronata, Stipa parviflora, Atractylis seratuloides, Schismus barbatus, Artemisia herba-alba, Lygeum spartum. This type extends over 2,500,000 hectares. It provides an important forage reserve, albeit of low quality, especially in this zone characterized by long and severe drought events. It also provides invaluable soil protection when not degraded. However, the recurrence of droughts, along with maintaining too many animals by extensive use of concentrates has recently led to a large scale degradation of this resource;
ix) degraded steppes of arid to Saharan bioclimate in the middle Moulouya valley composed of Lycium intricatum, associated according to local ecological conditions with Helianthemum spp., Halogeton alopecuroides, Salsola gemmascens, Noaea mucronata, Atractylis serratuloides, Aristida spp., Hammada scoparia. This type covers some 420,000 hectares.
The Middle Atlas
Major ecosystems are:
ii) forests of the semi-arid to subhumid zones with a cold winter composed of Quercus rotundifolia, generally in dense stands, but with openings having a herbaceous vegetation including Dactylis glomerata, Bromus spp., Festuca spp., Cynosurus elegans. They cover an area estimated at 340,000 hectares;
iii) forests of the humid zone with a cold winter, composed of Quercus mirbeckei, Q. rotundifolia, Crataegus lacinita, Rosa sp., Cynosurus elegans, Dactylis glomerata, Arrhenatherum elatius. It extends over a relatively limited area (6,000 hectares);
iv) forests of the subhumid and humid zones with a cold winter, composed of Cedrus atlantica, Acer monspessulanum, Quercus rotundifolia, and in the drier and colder parts Bupleurum spinosum and Erinacea anthyllis. This type covers an area of 180,000 hectares;
v) forests of the sub-humid composed of Quercus suber, Arbutus unedo, Cistus spp., Halimium halimifolium, Dactylis glomerata, covering an area of approximately 15,000 hectares;
vi) low shrublands of the humid zone composed of Adenocarpus boudyi, Genista pseudopilosa, Genista quadriflora, Festuca rubra, Hieracium pseudopilosella, extending over some 18,000 hectares;
vii) mountain grasslands or turf, composed of Poa bulbosa, Dactylis glomerata, Stipa lagascae, Festuca rubra, Festuca ovina, Hieracium pseudopilosella, Scorzonera pygmea, Medicago suffruticosa, covering some 50,000 hectares;
viii)) mountain shrublands composed of spiny xerophytes such as Erinacea anthyllis, Cytisus purgans ssp. Balansae, Alyssum spinosum, associated with herbaceous species such as Stipa lagascae, Poa bulbosa, Festuca ovina, Festuca rubra, covering some 100,000 hectares.
The last three types are the most productive and also with the highest herbaceous plant diversity. They are grazed mostly by transhumant herds during June to October-November.
The High Atlas
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) forests and woodlands at altitudes 1,400-1,800 metres, semi-arid with temperate winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Juniperus phoenicea, Thymus spp., Globularia alypum, Dactylis glomerata, and locally Callitris articulata. The type extends over an approximate area of 370,000 hectares;
iii) woodlands of the subhumid and semiarid, with cold winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Pinus halepensis, or Juniperus phoenicea, Globularia spp., Thymus spp., covering an area over 160,000 hectares;
iv) forests and woodlands of the subhumid, with cold winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Cistus spp., Festuca spp., Dactylis glomerata. The area covered is estimated at 320,000 hectares;
v) mountain grasslands of the high altitudes composed of Festuca maroccana, F. rubra, Scorzonera pygmaea, Nardus stricta, and Trifolium humile. This is a relatively productive ecosystem which extends over 85,000 hectares;
vi) high altitude shrublands composed of Vella mairei, Bupleurum spinosum, Alyssum spinosum, Festuca maroccana, Dactylis glomerata, with locally Juniperus thurifera, covering approximately 770,000 hectares;
vii) high altitude low shrublands composed of Ormenis scariosa, Adenocarpus anagyrifolius, Retama dasycarpa, Alyssum spinosum, Bupleurum spinosum, Dactylis glomerata, Stipa nitens. The area concerned is about 50,000 hectares
viii) high altitude steppes composed of Artemisia herba-alba, Ormenis scariosa and Bupleurum spinosum and covering about 93,000 hectares
The last four ecosystems are used mostly by transhumant herds from both sides of the High Atlas. Despite the relatively high animal pressures exerted on them in the summer months and the appearance of degradation indicators, these ecosystems remain relatively productive and with a good species diversity.
The Rif mountains
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) tall shrublands along the Mediterranean coast and in the Eastern part of the range, composed of Callitris articulata, Cistus villosus, Lavandula multifida, Teucrium fruticans, Hyparrhenia hirta, Piptatherum miliaceum. The area covered is 140,000 hectares
iii) forests and brushlands of the semi-arid and sub-humid with cold winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Thymus spp., Cistus spp., Genista sp., Festuca rubra, Dactylis glomerata. The area is estimated at 160,000 hectares;
iv) herbaceous vegetation of the sub-humid western part of the zone, composed of Urginea maritima, Asphodelus microcarpus, Cynodon dactylon, Chamaerops humilis, Plantago spp., Rumex sp.. Locally, remnants of perennial grasses such as Dactylis glomerata, Hyparrhenia hirta, Piptatherum miliaceum. This type is found as part of a mosaic with cropland and fallows. The area covered is approximately 20,000 hectares
v) woodlands and forests in the sub-humid with temperate to cool winters composed of Quercus suber, Erica arborea, Cistus spp. In the temperate area, other species such as Callitris articulata, Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus unedo, Hyparrhenia hirta, Piptatherum miliaceum. The area covered is 288,000 hectares
vi) brushlands resulting from the degradation of forests in the humid with temperate to cool winters, composed of Chamaerops humilis, Cistus spp, Erica arborea, Arbutus unedo. Locally, Ampelodesma mauritanica stands can be found. The area covered is 160,000 ha;
vii) forests in the humid with cool to cold winters, composed of Cedrus atlantica, Acer monspessulanum, Quercus spp. A small forest of Abies maroccana is found in this type.
The Zone of Mamora-Zaers
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) forests and woodlands of the semi-arid temperate to warm winters, composed of Callitris articulata, Pistacia lentiscus, Phillyrea angustifolia, Olea europea, Rhus pentaphylla, Cistus villosus, Lavandula multifida, Dactylis glomerata, Hyparrhenia hirta, Asphodelus microcarpus, Bromus spp. Brachypodium distachyum. The area is about 280,000 hectares
iii) forests of inner lands under sub-humid bioclimate and cool winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Cistus spp.; Lavandula stoechas, Thymus spp., Dactylis glomerata, Festuca caerulescens, Cynosurus sp., Bromus spp., Brachypodium spp. The area covered is about 87,000 hectares
The Plains and Plateaux North of the Atlas
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) degraded steppes composed of Stipa capensis, Calendula bicolor, Medicago spp., Notoceras bicorne, Eruca vesicaria extend over 250,000 hectares in a mosaic with croplands;
iii) degraded steppes situated in the driest parts and shallow soils, composed of Hammada scoparia, Eruca vesicaria, Notoceras bicorne, covering an area of 126,000 hectares;
iv) degraded steppes composed of Salsola vermiculata with Aizoon hispanicum, or with Atriplex halimus, Anacyclus radiatus, Diplotaxis tenuisiliqua, covering a total area of about 100,000 hectares in a mosaic with crops;
v) degraded steppes of the Rhamna and Jbilete ranges with lithosols, composed of Stipa capensis, Asphodelus tenuifolius, Notoceras bicorne, Diplotaxis spp., Peganum harmala. Desirable species such as Hyparrhenia hirta, Cenchrus ciliaris, Lavandula dentata are minor elements or only as traces like Artemisia herba-alba. This type covers about 328,000 hectares
vi) degraded steppes composed of Lycium intricatum, Plantago ovata, Peganum harmala, Ferula communis, covering some 96,000 hectares.
The Coastal Meseta
Vegetation is basically composed of herbaceous species such as Asphodelus microcarpus, Rumex bucephalophorus, Plantago coronopus, Spergularia fimbriata, Lotus maroccanus, Vulpia myuros, Bromus rigidus and Paronychia argentea. However, desirable perennials, including woody species, may regenerate with protection from grazing: Chamaecytisus albidus, Retama monosperma, Sanguisorba minor, Dactylis glomerata and Piptatherum miliaceum.
The Argan zone
Major rangeland ecosystems consist of:
ii) wooded steppes of the arid bioclimate with cool to warm winters, composed of Argania spinosa, Artemisia herba-alba, Ziziphus lotus, Stipa capensis and Asphodelus fistulosus; and covering 680,000 hectares
iii) argan forests in the semi-arid with temperate winters, associated with Olea europea, Pistacia lentiscus, Genista sp., Chamaerops humilis; and covering 235,000 hectares;
iv) forests and woodlands composed of Callitris articulata, Olea europea, Phillyrea angustifolia, Ceratonia siliqua, Pistacia lentiscus, Cistus villosus, Lavandula multifida, Thymus sp; Teucrium fruticans; and covering 225,000 hectares;
v) oak forest of the sub-humid with cool winters, composed of Quercus rotundifolia, Callitris articulata, Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus unedo, Juniperus phoenicea; and covering 76,000 hectares;
The Presaharan zone
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) alfa steppes at their southern limit composed of Stipa tenacissima, Stipa parviflora, Thymus spp., extending over an estimated area of 300,000 hectares;
iii) steppes of the South eastern plain of Tamlelt, composed of Hammada scoparia, Atractylis serratuloides, Farsetia hamiltoni and Aristida obtusa. Stands of Artemisia herba-alba, Atractylis serratuloides and Stipa parviflora can also be found. This is an ecosystem of relatively high potential, despite the climatic constraints and the impact of past use on vegetation and soil. This covers around 350,000 hectares;
iv) degraded steppes of the Saharan bioclimate composed of Fredolia aretioides, Hammada scoparia and Cymbopogon schoenanthus, covering 350,000 hectares;
v) degraded steppes of the Saharan bioclimate on regs, composed of Fredolia aretiodes, Launaea arborescens, Limoniastrum fei and Gymnocarpos decandrum. Area 570,000 hectares
vi) degraded steppes of the Saharan bioclimate on regs/hamadas, composed of Hammada scoparia, Atractylis serratuloides, Farsetia spp. and Limonium sp. The area covered is about 1,000,000 hectares;
vii) degraded steppes of the Saharan bioclimate on regs, composed of Zilla macroptera, Launaea arborescens, Hammada scoparia and Farsetia spp. The estimated area is 750,000 hectares;
The Saharan zone
Major rangeland ecosystems are:
ii) steppes of the consolidated dunes, composed of Aristida pungens, Calligonum comosum, covering about 2,600,000 million hectares;
iii) coastal steppes composed of Euphorbia regis-jubae, Euphorbia echinus, Euphorbia balsamifera and Senecio anteuphorbium, relatively productive (200 Kg DM/ha) 1,200,000 hectares
iv) coastal steppes composed of Salsola tetrandra, Zygophyllum waterlottii, Launaea arborescens and Lycium intricatum. Area concerned: approximately 1,300,000 hectares
v) steppes of the wadis (Draâ valley) composed of Atriplex halimus, Retama retam, Tamarix sp., Limoniastrum ifniense and Nitraria retusa. These steppes are among the most productive in the Saharan zone. Area 2,400,000 hectares;
vi) wooded steppes composed of Acacia raddiana, Withania adpressa and Cymbopogon schoenanthus. Area 440,000 hectares;
vii) halophytic steppes of the sebkhas, composed of Zygophyllum waterlotii, Zygophyllum gaetulum, Suaeda mollis and Suaeda monodiana. These steppes are the most productive (800 kg DM/ha). Area 1,700,000 hectares;
viii) steppes of the rocky plateaux and mountains, composed of Nucularia perrini, Traganum nudatum, Salsola spp. and Hammada scoparia. Area 1,700,000 hectares.
Fallows, stubbles and crop residues
Stubbles. Stubbles are used from harvest (May-June) to September-October. Their quality is relatively good during the first four weeks (Kabbali and Berger 1990) due to a high grain content and a high leaf/stem ratio. Later on, supplements are necessary, especially for pregnant sheep and after September.
Crop residues and by-products. These include wheat chaff, pelleted sugar beet meal, molasses, sunflower and cottonseed meal. The quantities utilized in 1989 were 1, 138, 159, 185, and 48 KT, respectively (Guessous 1991). In the recent past, increases in availability have been greater for wheat chaff, and the sunflower and cottonseed meal.
Oats: or the oats/vetch mixture were grown in 1994 on approximately 70,000 ha and 50,000 ha, respectively (Amine and El Baghati 1997). Mixtures are used in Sais and pure oats in Khemisset, Tangiers, Khenifra, Ifrane. The contribution of oats to the forage resource is 10 percent, corresponding to an average yield of only 1 500 FU /ha (MAMVA 1994-95): Fodder unit (FU) is defined as the equivalent to the net energy content of 1 kg of standard barley grain.
Fodder Barley: occupies the second rank in fodder acreage, after lucerne. It is cultivated on about 82,000 ha or 20% of the fodder acreage and contributes 9 % to the total fodder units (FU) produced by all sown fodder in the country (Amine and El Baghati 1997).It is mixed with a legume, generally peas, on about one sixth of its area (Ouknider 1997). Most fodder barley (90 percent) is gown under rainfed conditions, particularly in the plains of Chaouia, Doukkala, Abda, Tadla, and the Khemisset area (Amri and El Mzouri 1997). Under irrigation, it is grown in the Tadla, Doukkala and Tafilalet perimeters. Yields are relatively low on the average, attaining 1 500 FU/ha and 3,000 FU/ha, under rainfed and irrigation, respectively (Amri and El Mzouri 1997).
Lucerne: it occupies the largest area of sown fodder in the country, 85,000 hectares or about 22 percent (Birouk et al. 1997). Owing to its high productivity, it contributes about 50 percent of the total FU of the sown fodder. It is used as cut and carry fed fresh, to make hay, silage, and pellets. Most of the lucerne is grown in three major areas: i) the oasis systems of the valleys of Ziz, Draa and Dades south of the Atlas mountains; ii) the terraces in the valleys of the Atlas mountains; iii) the irrigated perimeters north of the Atlas, such as Tadla, Doukkala, Haouz, Moulouya and Souss-Massa. Average yield is 53 t fu/ha (Birouk et al. 1997).
Berseem: is grown on approximately 50,000 hectares annually. The area continues to extend (20 percent increase in the last decade) (Bounejmate 1997a). Its production attains 250 million FU (about 20 percent of the FU produced by sown fodder) (Bounejmate 1997a). Berseem is grown mainly in the irrigated perimeters of the Rharb, Doukkala, Haouz, and Tadla (Bounejmate 1997a). It is not grown in the southern perimeters of the oases because of the cold, and lucerne is better adapted. Berseem is grown under rainfed conditions in the Rharb and Loukkos plains and in the North (Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Sidi Kacem). Average production attains 8 to 10 t DM/ha (Ameziane 1987), well below the potential of 16 tons DM/ha.
Fodder maize: is grown on approximately 15,000 hectares, corresponding to 4 percent of the sown fodder (total maize acreage is 375,000 ha mostly for grain). It contributes some 116.6 million FU, corresponding to 11.5 percent of the sown fodder production (MAMVA 1994-95). The major areas of fodder maize under irrigation are the Rharb, Sous-Massa, Chefchaouen, Tetouan, and Doukkala. Under rainfed conditions, it is mainly grown in the northern parts of the country.
Forage Seed Production
The most important forage crops are Lucerne, berseem clover, barley and maize under irrigation; oat, vetch, barley, ryegrass, fodder peas, and annual medic in the rainfed zones. For range improvement plants used are perennial grasses (Dactylis, Festuca, Agropyron, etc.), annual medics, clovers and fodder shrubs (Atriplex, Acacia, and native shrubs).
Although, efforts have been made to develop new forage crop cultivars (Table 6), forage and pasture seed production in the country is less developed compared to other crops.
In general, the assessment of forage and pasture seed needs is very difficult due to the fluctuation of the amount of informal seed used by farmers and to the lack of precise information related to the subject. Table 7 gives areas cultivated with forage crops, seed requirement, production and importation.
Seed production in the country is highly dependent on the amount and the distribution of rainfall in the year. Therefore, seed needs are covered either through national production or through imports. In general seed import constitutes the rescue solution for forage and pasture seeds particularly in dry years.
It should be emphasised that
Forage germplasm conservation and utilisation
Forage germplasm from
The demographic pressure that different countries in the region have experienced has engendered a high population demand for agricultural and livestock products. This has pushed farmers to overexploit the pastoral resources, leading to overgrazing, and to convert productive range to marginal croplands. These effects have became aggravated by:
This series of constraints obviously has repercussions, direct or indirect, on the development of pastoral seed demand. Although the range reseeding has allowed a mastery of techniques and has given positive results in some countries, it has remained very limited. This low rate of realisation can be explained by:
|6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT OF FODDER
In order to overcome some of the limitations stated above, the Ministry of Agriculture has developed a strategy for range development. The main objectives of this strategy aim to:
The following actions are being taken at different levels in order to achieve the stated objectives:
Policies and Legislation
Conservation and sustainability. One of the main objectives of the strategy for rangeland development relates to the sustainable use of the resources. Protection of the environment is central to this strategy (combating desertification, conservation of biodiversity and agro-biodiversity).
Grazing land improvement. Results achieved during the phase 1969-1980 made it possible to draw the main lines for rangeland development. These, which are supported by the organization of beneficiaries, the range studies and the rational exploitation of the rangeland, have formed the basis for development of several range projects such the Middle Atlas project, the FAO-UNDP project and the USAID Range improvement project under which capacity building has been reinforced.
During the period 1980 - 1990 efforts were concentrated on:
However, the actions undertaken were not sufficient enough to achieve the defined development objectives. This has pushed the Ministry to develop the livestock strategy described above.
Integration of Forages into Farming Systems
The ley farming operation was launched in 1986 aiming at the integration of sheep and cereal production by cultivating the 1,600,000 to 2,600,000 hectares that have been fallow each year. Despite the real advantages that this operation represents in the semi-arid regions of Morocco, the substitution of the rotation cereal-annual medics or cereal-subterranean clover was only done on about 5,200 ha/ year. The main reason for the limited adoption of this system is related to the size of the farms. In fact, most of the farms are very small and scattered which makes movement of the herd and grazing difficult.
|7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS
The following institutions are involved in forage research and development:
The profile was prepared by:
Omar Berkat, Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan
II, B.P. 6202, Rabat-Instituts, Rabat,
Mohammed Tazi, Chef du Centre de Production des Semences
Pastorales, BP 79, El Jadida,