Morocco and Algeria : Irrigation in the Mediterannean Region: Strengthening small and medium scale farmers (#447)

In the Maghreb region food security relies mainly on irrigated agriculture. Centralized water management which lack water users’ involvement causes problems in the quality and quantity of the resource. Alternative models, which include the management of water by users, have strengthened the innovation of small scale irrigation systems and supported the initiation of cooperatives and networks. This case illustrates the value of small scale solutions, cooperation and training.


In the Maghreb region, like in other regions of the world where food security relies mainly on irrigated agriculture. Managers and users of water are faced with growing problems related to quantitative and qualitative management of water resource. The governments have experienced several failures linked to the centralized management of water, which generally has not involved users. Alternative models, in particular the management of water by users themselves, are being proposed to allow agriculture to keep production as much or even more, in the context of increasing population and rising food demand.

Action taken

The Network of Farmers in Mediterranean Irrigated Systems (RIM by its French acronym) is a pilot project that was initiated focusing on farmers’ vocational training for water savings. The initiative also focused on the development of agricultural value chains, to the benefit of family farmers’ organizations in the Maghreb region. Two phases of the project have been carried out in Morocco (phase 1: 2008- 2009 and phase 2: 2010-2011), while in Algeria, the first phase was between 2010-2011. Innovative training methods have been implemented i.e. participative diagnosis to identify the needs of farmers, validation and partnership with existing networks of farmers and producers’ organizations. More so, involvement of trainers from various backgrounds, and setting up of training sessions by farmers themselves.

The two phases of RIM project have trained 400 farmers and leaders of professional organizations in 5 irrigated regions in Morocco and Algeria in 2 regions on different themes: irrigation drip, collective water management and agricultural water users’ associations, value chains in irrigated systems

Results and lessons learnt

  • The project has supported the building of networks of cooperatives and agricultural water users’ associations at the national level (Morocco and Algeria) and at the regional level (exchanges Morocco-Algeria). In Morocco, the project supported the birth of the network “Raccord” whose aim is to continue trainings.
  • This experience has allowed to improve the image the farmers have of themselves and of their professional activity, because of the pragmatic look that teachers, researchers and trainers had on their professional occupation.
  • This approach, linking research, action and development, has enabled to strengthen the capacity of innovation of small scale irrigating farmers for the collective management of water, to bring a direct support to farmers’ practices (like drip irrigation) and to propose tools and reflections to public policies on these issues, which go beyond the local level.