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Bibliothèque Intensification options in cereal-legume production systems generate trade-offs between sustainability pillars for farm households in northern Morocco

Intensification options in cereal-legume production systems generate trade-offs between sustainability pillars for farm households in northern Morocco

Intensification options in cereal-legume production systems generate trade-offs between sustainability pillars for farm households in northern Morocco

Resource information

Date of publication
Décembre 2022
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID
LP-CG-20-23-3655

Farmers in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region face several interrelated challenges including natural resource depletion, low crop productivity, and food and nutrition insecurity. To address some of these challenges, governments are considering different incentives to increase crop production. However, incentives often entail trade-offs and may have diverging effects on economic, social, and environmental sustainability. This study assessed the ex-ante effects of incentives targeted towards increasing crop production on the production and consumption decisions of farm households on the Saïss plain of northern Morocco. The assessment was conducted with a dynamic, intertemporal farm household model that simulates farm production and food consumption decisions. The model was calibrated using survey data from 85 farm households for 2014. Four scenarios were codesigned with local stakeholders and then simulated over a continuous 15-year period to capture rainfall variability: (1) increased availability of annual groundwater for irrigated cropping from 31 m3 ha−1 to 215 m3 ha−1, (2) a 15% increase in grain prices for cereals and legumes, (3) introduced drought tolerant crop varieties, and (4) a fourth scenario that combines all factors in the above three scenarios. Our results showed that regardless of the scenario, the area of cereals and legumes cultivated only slightly changed compared to the Baseline scenario. However, according to the scenarios tested, the total production of cereals increased by 10% to 21% and of legumes increased by 2% to 9%. This production increase is the direct consequence of increased crop yields due to an intensification of crop production methods. The incentives increased the consumption of cereals and legumes by up to 43%. This increase was mainly due to a shift from grain to vegetable production that increases cash income, resulting in more food purchases from the market while consumption from own production dropped by up to 53%. The average increase in crop income was 14% in scenarios 1–3 and 28% in scenario 4. However, increased income had ramifications for nature resource stocks, with irrigation water use from groundwater increasing by 593% in the Water scenario and 320% in the combined scenario, relative to the Baseline scenario. In the Water scenario, incomes increased by 15% and nitrogen leached increased by 36%, highlighting the trade-off between economic and environmental sustainability. These results show the challenges in obtaining acceptable compromises between the three sustainability pillars as the scenarios increased income but also led to increased groundwater extraction and nitrate leaching.

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Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s)

El Ansari, Loubna , Chenoune, Roza , Yigezu, Yigezu Atnafe , Komarek, Adam M. , Gary, Christian , Belhouchette, Hatem

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Geographical focus