The agricultural sector in the Sahara region is of an oasis kind mainly based on animal pastoral production-type associated with activities of irrigated agriculture in the oases.
The total population of these provinces is largely rural. Farmers (approximately 6,400), who are mostly farmers, practice camel rearing in most provinces.
This breeding is mainly nomadic, but which tends to settle down around oases and major urban centers.
The total area of the Sahara region amounts to 24 million ha, including 130,000 ha of agricutural land. Routes are the main component of the farmin system in the region dominated by camel breeding. The irrigated area is 500 ha devoted mainly to crops and vegetables. Also, during wet years, large areas of 50,000 ha are irrigated by flood waters (Elfayed).
The livestock sector is dominated by dromedaries totalling 140,000 head; i.e. 67% of national herd camel. The other animals are also represented in the region with some 380,000 head of goats, 300,000 head of sheep and 1,100 head of cattle. The region also has 30 poultry units.
The region suffers from a number of problems including:
• Saharan Climate characterized by low rainfall.
• Relatively low production levels;
• Land pathways often suffering from advanced degradation.
Despite the natural constraints, the Sahara region offers opportunities for agricultural development:
• Existence of a valuable potential in natural resources allowing the development of an agricultural and pastoral oasis. Agriculture, thanks to its aboriginal, allows the preservation of biodiversity;
• Traditional and ingenious know-how of farmers relating to the management of water resources and agricultural oases;
• Mild winter temperatures in coastal areas allowing the production of vegetable crops in off-season.
éalisatioAchievements undertaken by the Departments in charge of Africulture and Farming
The Sahara region has witnessed the implementation of several development programmes and the setting up of important infrastructures.
These programs have included (i) hydro-agricultural projects intended to improve irrigation, (ii) Agricultural development and rural development programmes to promote agricultural production, (iii) Registration development infrastructure, geodesy and topography (iv) Support services to agricultural development.
The main achievements have focused on the following areas.
In terms of hydro-agricultural development (24.5 MAD)
Together, PMH perimeters represent a number of common features specific to them with regard to the natural and socio-economic environments in which they are developed. The main specific features taken into consideration are:
• Size of PMH perimeters between 15 and 50 hectares in direct relation to the nature and degree of water resources;
• Irrigation water from deep layer;
• Statute of farmland under the Public Water Area because of their location in major wadi beds.
Concerning irrigation, the Sahara region has experienced programmes of hydro-agricultural rehabilitation of the irrigation network and the creation of new perimeters.
During this period, a 24.5 MAD program has been achieved. This program concerned lands amount to about 1054 hectares.
In terms of agricultural production (151.9 MAD)
Given the region’s vocation, the major programs focused on the development of livestock whose overall achievements are summarized below:
Health Coverage of Livestock through:
• Prophylaxis campaigns against contagious diseases of all animal species at a cost of 0.8 MAD per year. Immunization coverage has reached 60 to 70% (depending on animal species and diseases);
• Fight against internal and external parasites, mainly camel breeding with a coverage rate of 60%. The average cost is 2.8 MAD per year;
• Safety control of animal products and of animal origin (meat, milk, and fish products). The average annual cost of these operations is 0.8 MAD;
Major Livestock Safeguard Programme through:
• Creation, organization and equipment of 580 water points (70 MAD). In addition, the area has 44 trucks with their necessary operational resources. They are renewed periodically to ensure the transportation of water for livestock;
• Assumption by the state of the barley transport costs for feeding livestock at an average of 400,000 Qx per year. The average annual cost is 20 MAD;
• Management of rangelands in an area of 7,350 ha and the construction of 163 tanks (15.6 MAD);
• Promotion of camel farming through the organization of livestock fairs granting awards to farmers: an average of 4 competitions per year (0.4 MAD);
It should be noted that control programmes have generated 600 million MAD. Some of these programmes have been carried out in the Sahara region.
In terms of infrastructure development (8.6 MMAD)
• Setting up a meteorological station at a cost of 0.2 MMAD to provide agro meteorological data required for agriculture development;
• Creation of 4 milk processing plants with a capacity of about 5 million gallons per year at a cost of 7 MMAD;
• The creation of a camel breeding station in Laayoune in charge of applied research and control of breeding parameters for these species at a cost of 1.2 MMAD. In addition, a project to develop a “hippocamélodrome” is being launched in Laayoune in partnership with the Agency for the South and the city’s Provincial Council (total estimated cost 8 MMAD);
• Creation of two poultry stations with a cost of 0.7 MMAD for the demonstration and promotion of local production of white meat;
• Creation of a municipal slaughterhouse in Laayoune 5 MMDh.
In terms of land registration, geodesy and cartography (350 MMAD)
The achievements in the three southern regions focused on:
• 4,505 registration requisitions being treated;
• 20,608 land titles and maps after registration operations;
• 1,500 geodetic equipment points;
• 25 Doppler stations and 3 permanent GPS stations;
• 1,320 km of precision leveling;
• 600 gravity points.
• 325,000 sq km of aerial shooting (PVA);
• 277 maps, plans and images at different scales.
These activities have helped land security and its introduction into economy and the preparation of documents necessary for the planning and study of all economic and social project. The total cost of these works is 350 MMAD.
In terms of support to agricutural development
The Department has established a significant infrastructure and human and material resources to provide the necessary services to agricultural development in this area of national territory.
As such, the Sahara region includes:
• Four Provincial Agricultural Directorates (DPA) and 4 Agricultural Work Centres (CT) to provide services and advice to producers, as well as control food safety and plant protection;
• Two departments of land conservation and two cadastre departments in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla, equipped with the necessary logistical requirements;
• An experimental field of agricultural research in Laayoune, which undertakes research in the fields of livestock and palm development and oases’ preservation;
• Two delegations in Dakhla for the control and coordination of exports;
• A Laayoune-based department to ensure a steady supply of subsidized flour to the southern provinces;
• A qualifying agricultural center in Laayoune which has trained 497 graduates in farming and 759 sons and daughters of farmers;
All human resources for the accomplishment of the various programmes amount to 309 agents including 15.5% of managers in various fields (engineers, veterinarians, and so on.).
Buildings constructed during this period cover an area of nearly 20,000 m2 (administrative buildings for residential use). The equipment required for these buildings (technical equipment, computers, furniture, etc.) are provided and renewed periodically.
Results and Achievements
Since 1975, the participation of development programmes initiated by the Kingdom has touched several areas of strategic importance.
Development projects and investment programmes in infrastructure are consolidated and strengthened every year.
These efforts have led to significant results in the field of animal and crop production.
The Sahara region produce locally a significant portion of local food requirements, especially with regard to livestock products (2,700 tonnes per year of red meat, 2,030 tonnes per annum of white meat and 8,000 tons of milk per year).
The projects will certainly help further exploitation of the region’s potential, add value to its products, namely by strengthening herd regeneration and improving crop production in the perimeters equipped for irrigation, while preserving local natural resources.
Infrastructure conducted in the Sahara Region:
Farmer Populations in the Sahara Region:
Click here to download explanatory livestock map in the Sahara region.
Click here to download explanatory map on crop production in the Sahara region.
Click here to download Small and Medium hydraulic map in the Sahara region.