Morocco is determined to face the challenges of climate change. In its Low Carbon strategy for 2050, the Kingdom begins to reflect on the various paths to favor to achieve an inclusive, resilient and sustainable agricultural ecosystem: Development of organic agriculture, evaluation of the impact of the Green Generation on the climate, protection of water resources, review of the agricultural vocation of the soil... Summary of the different planned alternatives.
Morocco is already beginning the process of reflection on the new orientations of its agricultural system for 2050. In its long-term Low Carbon strategy, the Kingdom establishes the various possible paths to achieve a resilient, durable and suitable agricultural ecosystem for both local inhabitants and export markets. Emphasizing the quality and efficiency of crops and the development of high added value sectors, the Green Morocco Plan has contributed to "improving the competitiveness" of Moroccan agriculture, particularly vis-à-vis foreign markets by developing, among other things, new quality products requirements with regulatory value. According to the roadmap presented to the United Nations at the end of 2021, these programs have been “worthwhile” and should continue in the future. However, in the long term, and for a more precarious part of the agricultural population, other ways must be explored to achieve the same levels of competitiveness. Therefore, the strategy recommends an analysis of future climate change to characterize the future modes of production or development that will be implemented according to the territories and, more broadly, the future vocations of arable land.
Thus, improving the various ecosystem services provided by agricultural areas, particularly in the most precarious areas, would promote the resilience of fragile populations that practice subsistence agriculture (example: livestock farming in the mountains). In other words, agricultural land is multifunctional, and it is interesting, depending on the strategy, to reward its multiple functions. It should be noted that some participants maintain that the review of the vocation of agricultural land should affect all farms and not only the most precarious ones. Explanation: the future impacts of climate change and productive exploitation can affect all territories.
Domestic trash cans, a gold mine for agriculture
The issues of waste and waste recovery are inevitable when imagining the future of low carbon agriculture, according to the Low Carbon roadmap. Morocco, where private landfills contain between 60 and 80 % of organic waste, has resources considered "interesting" to make the most of its agricultural production and reduce pressure on it. First, the strategy recommends limiting waste, particularly through education or marketing of uncalibrated products. This should allow for "better" optimization of production. Then, organic waste from individuals and professionals, as well as agricultural effluents and by-products (margin, pomace, manure, etc.) could be valorized through processes such as composting or methanation. The latter, although sometimes difficult to make financially profitable, have many positive externalities, in particular on soil quality (fertility) or the carbon impact of the sectors. Therefore, the option of a public-private partnership with the OCP group to organize these outlets should be considered.
Intensive or ecological agriculture, which model to favor?
The roadmap raises several questions about the agricultural production model to favor in the long term. Should production methods be oriented towards more intensive or agroecological practices? Can these two approaches coexist in the current model? Government bodies have carried out work considered “important” in favor of the sustainability of Moroccan agriculture, in particular through the Green Morocco Plan and Green Generation. Many works are also underway, in order to build resilient agriculture, efficient in terms of water, energy and inputs, compatible with international quality standards and at the service of the agricultural population. However, qualifying the strategy, these strategic choices illustrate a desire to develop an agricultural model perceived as too conventional by certain actors, who have visions favorable to a more marked agroecological development. The Low Carbon roadmap suggests that current ambitions regarding the development of organic sectors could be revised upwards, so that they no longer represent a marginal share of agricultural land. It also proposes strengthening appellations with notions of terroir, in order to improve the competitiveness of areas where intensive agriculture is not suitable. On the contrary, some suggest investing in research to reduce the number of less productive crops in favor of higher yields.
Therefore, the debate is not closed, create the strategy. In the current model, the agricultural population seems destined to decline. To adapt to this evolution, some plan to think about production in such a way that it combines intensive and conservation agriculture. The second is the prerogative of small farmers whose access to the various factors of production is limited, but who have a strong local interest in the life of the territories. Thus, the roadmap considers that a territorialization of the modes of production and associated support, supported by a solid information system, would allow the dry-irrigated diptych to be perpetuated. However, the perspective of this coexistence is not totally shared by everyone. Indeed, some stakeholders, whom the strategy does not name, argue that a systemic approach involves bringing together all value chains and that agroecological production would not necessarily be relevant in an otherwise intensive system. Therefore, a model change would be necessary to imagine the implementation of different production methods. This could not be done without farmers, because they would be the first to assume the limitations, such as the work considered more intensive, the strategy emphasizes.
Green Generation: the impact on the climate to be evaluated
This is one of the recommendations of the Low Carbon 2050 roadmap. Assessing the impact of the Green Generation (2020-2030) on the climate is essential. The agricultural strategy can thus be translated into greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by also including a component of “exports and imports” expressed in the carbon content of agricultural and food products. This evaluation must include a report on the use of surfaces, hypotheses on the evolution of production methods and on the social and environmental impacts. Another recommendation is the continuation of research work with a view to forecasting, with the construction of agroclimatic indicators for the 2050 horizon, impacts related to the lack of water resources. Similarly, the Low Carbon strategy recommends the definition of post-2030 guidelines, to distinguish between more intensive systems, potentially more productive, but generating adverse effects (qualitative and quantitative degradation of water resources, dependence on inputs), and more resilient and resource-saving. efficient agroecological systems (conservation agriculture, organic agriculture).
Animal proteins in the Moroccan dish, which way to go?
The consumption of proteins of animal origin, which has increased slightly in recent years thanks to the Green Morocco Plan, remains a topic of debate, the strategy underlines. While some seem satisfied with the increasing proportion of meat, fish and dairy products in the Moroccan diet, others suggest bending the curve of meat protein consumption in favor of legumes, both for health and environmental reasons. The roadmap therefore indicates that breeding can be roughly divided between ruminants and monogastric animals. While GHG emissions from ruminants linked in particular to enteric fermentation are problematic, raising monogastric animals such as poultry also comes with its share of limitations, including dependence on grain imports to feed them. Quantifying these impacts in Morocco's perspective in 2050 will therefore be a key step in determining the orientations related to livestock farming and animal protein consumption in the country.