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FEATURE STORYDecember 20, 2023

Moroccan Farmers Search for Solutions in the Face of Climate Change

Fatima Zahrae Lamnassra, Moroccan Farmer - Morocco

Farmers in Morocco are forced to adopt increasingly resilient production techniques to adapt and safeguard their farming practices. ©The World Bank


  • The effects of climate change are increasingly evident in Morocco, and farmers are often the first to suffer
  • Drought is now a structural problem for farmers in the Fez-Meknes region and beyond
  • Farmers in Morocco are turning to more resilient production techniques to protect their future

OUED ROUMANE, Morocco – For Fatima Zahrae Lamnassra, farming is in her blood. She has worked alongside her brother and parents for the past decade, growing wheat, pulses, oilseeds and sunflowers on land that has been in her family for three generations. The family employs 14 full-time staff and 80 daily seasonal workers during harvest-time on the farm, which is in Oued Roumane in the Fez-Meknes region, long considered the breadbasket of Morocco.

But in recent years, the impacts of climate change have made Lamnassra’s job more difficult as the river close to the farm has been drying up. Drought is the main challenge facing farmers in Fez-Meknes and elsewhere in Morocco, one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. 


"Drought in the region has become structural, and we have gone from having one drought year in five to one drought year in three over the last two years," said Lamnassra.  

This year has been particularly difficult for farmers in Oued Roumane, who suffered from a chain of climatic hazards. They were confronted with an arid end of winter, a sirocco and gusts of hot winds (over 70 km/h) which prevented some crops from flowering and dried out others. Then in March there was a damaging heatwave with abnormally high temperatures of up to 40° Celsius, violent rainfall and hail at the end of May, which brought the harvest to a halt. 

“Climate change brings a whole new set of uncertainties for our future. We no longer know what season we’re in. We usually start harvesting at the end of June, but this year, we were forced to finish in May," she said. 


"The impact of climate change on Morocco's food security and the global food system is undeniable. As farmers, we recognize this reality and are increasingly adopting resilient production techniques to adapt and safeguard our farming practices", added Lamnassra. 

Faced with these hazards, farmers are seeking varieties that need less water and are more resilient in the face of future water shortages that are exacerbated by climate change.

Some local farmers are collaborating with research teams from the National Agricultural Research Institute (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to gain access to drought-resistant seeds for testing.

New techniques are also being adopted to do more with less, such as slow-release nitrogen applications, drip irrigation when there is access to water for agriculture, and the development of new cultivation methods e.g., no tillage system for better soil and water conservation.

Another strategy by farmers to help cope with food insecurity, is to store more of their harvests and stagger sales over time.  


The World Bank is supporting Morocco’s efforts to build a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system through programs such as the Resilient and Sustainable Water in Agriculture Project (RESWAG). This project aims to modernize irrigation and drainage on more than 50,000 ha, while supporting water governance and providing agricultural advice to more than 20,000 farmers facing hotter, drier conditions that are putting further pressure on already limited water resources.

"Nowadays, farmers in Morocco have to succeed in producing under dire conditions and various manifestations of climate change. It is vital to develop creative solutions for more resilient agriculture, whether through digital tools, irrigation modernization, better management of soil and water under rainfed agriculture, or raising awareness among new generations of farmers”, explains Rémi Trier, Senior Agriculture and Water Specialist for the World Bank in Morocco.

Another example is the “Green Generation” Programs-For-Results program, which supports the country’s agricultural strategy through several activities, including the creation of regional centers to promote youth employment in the agri-food sector (with a target of 13,000 young people having set up agriculture-related businesses that have been operational for at least six months), the modernization of four wholesale markets (with a target of 865,000 tons of local produce ), and the development of digital and climate-smart tools (targeting 12,000 producers) to improve jobs and make value chains more efficient.  

In concrete terms, nearly 20,000 young people have benefited from the agricultural entrepreneurship support system offered by the Green Generation program and 44 young people were trained and their innovative projects awarded and supported (via a national competition). The program has also supported 220 young people (including 55 women) involved in agricultural service cooperatives. Around 120 women's cooperatives have also received training through digital technologies developed under the program. Finally, 8,800 agri-food businesses and organizations authorized by ONSSA (the National Office for the Sanitary Safety of Food Products) have benefited from improved market access and food safety.

The World Bank is also supporting the government in deploying new techniques such as zero tillage systems to adapt to irregular rainfall and preserve soil under a strategic program of the Green Generation Strategy which has a target of converting 1 million ha of cereals to this new system by 2030 and strengthening financial tools to better manage climate risks, including agricultural insurance.

Moroccan farmers have long tried to manage climate risks by diversifying their activities or investing in livestock, but with the recurrence of droughts and heat waves, these ancestral risk management methods need to be completed by innovative risk management instruments that enable better adaptation (climate-smart-agriculture practices) or risk transfer (crop or index insurance),” says Nabila Gourroum, Senior Agriculture Specialist for the World Bank in Morocco.

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