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  毛里塔尼亚

The rural sector is one of the most important in the Mauritanian economy. Indeed, over sixty two percent (62%) of the population depend on rural activities for their livelihoods. Rural activities are responsible for 17% of the GDP and are the second highest source of employment in the country (about 21% of the working population). Finally, the sector contributes significantly to meet the country's consumption needs of cereals (30%), red meat (100%) and milk (30%). The useful agricultural area (UAA) represents less than 0.5% of the country (estimated at 502,000 ha). Moreover, 44% of the UAA, or 220,000 ha, is cultivated with rainfed production systems (Diéri, Bas-fonds and Walo) that are highly dependent on rainfall, the water flow and thus on the quality of water infrastructures.

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Production in Mauritania is affected by the ecological environment in the country’s four agro-ecological zones and consequently in the correspondent four main production systems:

  • The arid zone: this zone, the largest territory (80% of the total area) is characterized by high temperatures, drought and very low rainfall. The oasis production system is characterized by palms and some associated irrigated crops (cereals, alfalfa, fruit and vegetables), covering approximately 12,000 ha or 2.4% of the UAA.
  • The Sahelian zone in the South-east of the country presents dry winters and rainy summers. The production system is of agro-pastoral kind: in the east, transhumance and extensive farming predominate over extensive pluvial crops (sorghum, millet, maize), of "diéri" type on sandy areas, that vary considerably depending on rainfall: from 57,000 to 184,000 ha or from 11% to 37% of the UAA. Yields are low, around 0.3 tons / ha. In the South, crops are dominant (sorghum, maize, vegetables) with dams and lowlands. The areas range from 14,000 to 60,000 ha, or from 3% to 12% of the total UAA. Average yields are low, around 0.8 tonnes / ha. Family farming (characterized by family labour and subsistence crops) is predominant across these two production systems, and the average size of farms is 1.5 ha.
  • The area of the Senegal River Valley is dominated by irrigated agriculture but rain fed crops and livestock are also common. With regards to irrigation agriculture, there are two different cropping systems: the first is the irrigated agriculture in total water control, concentrated in the Senegal River Valley, where its potential is estimated at 135 000 ha; 8900 ha of newly irrigated land has been cultivated between 2009 and 2014, bringing the total irrigated area to around 30 000 ha or 6% of the UAA. Three harvests per year are performed: rice in the rainy season (July-October), fruit and vegetables, maize, and sorghum during the cold counter-season (November-February), rice in the hot counter-season (March to June).Rice, the main irrigated crop, has an average yield of 4 tons/ ha, despite potential of 6-8 tons/ha. The second system in the area is the Walo natural or controlleddecline.. Cultivated lands range from a minimum of 7,000 ha (2002), or 1.4% of the UAA, to a maximum of 40 000 ha (1996), 8% of the UAA. The main crops of these systems are sorghum and maize. Average yields are low, in the order of 0.6 tonnes / ha in natural decline and 0.9 tonnes / ha in controlled decline. 50% of this  culture system depends on the management on the Manantali dam .Family farming represents less than 50% of the cultivated area under this production system and the average farm size is 0.5 ha. As an illustration, during the 2011 rainy season, the rice- cultivated  area of 20 356 ha was managed by 708 farms, of which 225 were family farms, representing 43% of the area and 31.8% of the total number of agricultural activities.
  • The maritime zone, a coastal strip 50 km wide, ranging from Nouadhibou to the delta of the Senegal River. In this area, the coastal production system allows agricultural activities with particular potential, due to its lower temperatures and the increased level of humidity; therefore the area is highly suitable for crops, especially horticultural and tree cultivations. An indicative estimate of the UAA is about 12 000 hectares. The urban-type farming is developed all around  the urban areas.

In the Mauritanian agricultural context, rainfed agriculture suffers to a considerable degree from the effects of climate change. Water resources and soil are threatened by overexploitation and degradation. Indeed the scarcity of rainfall, climate variability and extreme weather events has increasingly negative effects on rural people.

Agricultural production is affected mainly by low levels of:
- Control and use of surface water;
- Development of value chains and organization of the involved actors;
- Intensification and mechanization;
- Incentive policies;
- Financing for agricultural sector.

In order to overcome these constraints, since 2009 the government has undertaken the implementation of a set of actions to relaunch the sector, including:

-The increase of irrigated arable land through the development and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes;
-The opening up of the production areas;
-The promotion of agricultural diversification (introduction of wheat cultivation, development of potato and onion cultures);
- Securing crops against wandering animals and main predators (birds, locust borer);
- Improving and organizing access to agricultural inputs;
-Creation of a structure dedicated to rural credit in the Deposit and Development Fund;
-The development of a new investment code that is attractive for national and international investors.

The chapter IV of the Agro-pastoral Orientation Law states that agricultural policy has the aim to organize, promote, manage and develop family farms. To this end, the State:
- Creates the conditions for the promotion and protection of family farms;
- Promotes the development and diversification of agricultural businesses;
- Contributes to farming’s promotion;
- Grants facilities to agricultural enterprises;
- Contributes to strengthening service capacity of staff in agricultural enterprises;
- Sets up the conditions that ensure the social protection of personnel employed in businesses and family farms;
It is also important to mention the introduction of 185 young unemployed graduates on 1850 ha along the Senegal River.

Socio-professional organizations (federations, cooperatives, NGOs, credit unions, etc.) are working together with the government in developing agricultural sector policies. Thus the programming of all development actions emanates from the target populations.

In Mauritania, the Strategic Framework for the Fight against Poverty (CSLP III) sets the broader guidelines and is based on interdependent and decentralized sector strategies, integrating all the actors of the national economy. It constitutes the reference document for the economic and social development polices of the country.
Other documents stem from this strategic framework. They are:
- Development Strategy of the Rural Sector (RSDS, 2025).
- Strategy for the Food Security 2030
- Institutional Review of the agro pastoral sector
- Agropastoral Orientation Law

The main background elements presented below are drawn from the Development Strategy for the Rural Sector (SDSR, horizon 2025).

 

 

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