WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 - The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$150 million project to address more efficient water use in agriculture, one of Morocco’s core sectors as it generates 40% of jobs nationwide. The Large Scale Irrigation Modernization Project will finance the modernization of the irrigation infrastructure and will build increased capacities of service providers, for more effective management of a scarce resource and to ensure that about 9,300 farmers have a reliable water service needed to grow higher value crops.
The project will promote access to water on-demand by individual farmers in four of Morocco’s nine Regional Agricultural Development Offices (ORMVAs). More specifically, the project will support the ORMVAs in charge of the management of the large scale irrigation perimeters of Doukkala, Gharb, Haouz, and Tadla.
“Many farmers in large scale irrigation perimeters in Morocco do not have satisfactory access to water, which can cause a number of problems. They have to manage water collectively, with a lack of clarity as to how much individual famers have used, and how much each should pay, which often leads to disputes” said Gabriella Izzi, World Bank Senior Agricultural Specialist and leader of the project. “As a consequence, farmers – especially smaller ones – tend to make low-risk choices, producing crops that are less sensitive to water stress, but that also provide lower returns”.
Through the infrastructural investments, technical assistance, and capacity building provided under the project, the ORMVAs would be able to provide the farmers with continuous and reliable access to water. The project promotes the introduction of individual meters for each farm, with clear accountability for the water consumed. Thanks to the improved service, more efficient irrigation technologies, like drip irrigation, could be used.
“The project will create the enabling conditions for farmers to improve their farming choices and their productivity. They will be able to use water more effectively and efficiently, increasing yields and cropping intensity, and changing cropping pattern towards higher value crops” says Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “These changes would translate into an increase in farmers’ income and livelihood. It is expected that change in crops and increased cropping intensity could lead to an increase of small farmers’ revenues between two to three times across all perimeters targeted by the project”.
The project continues the long standing collaboration between the Government of Morocco and the World Bank in the irrigation sector. The project approved today is the second in support to the National Program for Saving Water in Irrigation (PNEEI).