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Kuper M.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Kuper M.,Institute Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II | Hammani A.,Institute Agronomique et Veterinaire IAV Hassan II | Chohin A.,Cap Rural | And 2 more authors.
Irrigation and Drainage | Year: 2012

When large-scale irrigation schemes were created, establishing viable, and closely supervised, medium-sized family farms was considered essential to reap the benefits of state investments. This centralized development model was progressively dismantled, especially as farmers installed private tubewells relying less on surface water. Our aim is to analyse development pathways of family farms in the Tadla irrigation scheme (Morocco). Results showed that pathways were linked to groundwater access, but also to (informal) land markets, and off-farm revenues. Groundwater enabled farmers to overcome reductions in surface water, and diversify crops. This concerned mainly the 36% large and medium-sized farms. Such farmers also managed to increase their cropped area through land markets, as renting in land, and producing market crops, require capital. Groundwater showed limited redistributive capacities, as only 20% of small-scale farmers obtained direct access. Farmers' off-farm revenues sustained livelihoods, especially in dry years, but were generally not reinvested in agriculture. Over the past 40years, groundwater has been mainly mobilized from phreatic aquifers, recharged by rainfall and surface irrigation. Their use seems sustainable, but farmers are exploring deeper aquifers while the administration encourages conversion to micro-irrigation, thus reducing aquifer recharge and complicating the future of the groundwater economy. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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