Agriculture in the Fès-Meknès region is mainly represented by crop production: sunflower, legumes, broad beans, faba beans, peas, chickpeas. Fruit trees are also important, with the cultivation of cherry, apple, pear, plum, apricot, nectarine. However, the region faces a major problem: water scarcity. The consequences of global warming are having a strong impact on the fruit trees, highly dependant on temperature cycles.
Many farmers lack resources, and many are unaware of alternative practices that exist to improve their crop production. Farmers need to diversify their production sources and switch to permaculture practices in order to make their productions profitable, more sustainable and viable in the long term.
The Agroecology and Environment research team (AGREE) within the National School of Agriculture (ENA) aims to promote agroecological practices within farmers, in particular among smallscale farmers. This approach is quite isolated within the school, more oriented towards conventional agriculture.
Farms autonomy is essential to their resilience. This can be reached by stopping the use of non-organic inputs, by using permaculture practices and mixing different plants and crops - the opposite of monoculture still very present in many regions in Morocco - by reducing water dependence and protecting the soil. This small research team wishes to encourage producers to adopt environmentally friendly practices taking into account the whole farming to go towards the adoption of a new agricultural system. The AGREE research team also promotes the use of organic manure to fertilize the soil. It has proven to be really effective in regenerating the soil and safeguarding its microflora, while providing important yields, allowing to get an economic profitability for farmers and allows the sustainability of the system, but also allows a regeneration of the soil, as well as its safeguarding and that of the microflora.
In order to encourage farmers adopt this approach, ENA professors set up an experimentation on this agricultural system on a plot next to the university. It aims to show the farmers that it’s possible to get a yield and revenue out of it. It is also a matter of showing smallscale producers already engaged in agroecology that it works and prevent them from turning to conventional farming.
The AGREE (Agroecology Environment) research team within the ENA, made of agronomists and researchers, initiated the project. A few smallscale farmers have already joined the project and all the producers interested in the Fès-Meknès region are welcome to join.
The Little Extra
The AGREE research team set up an experimental agro-ecological plot to test agro-ecological practices, while working in collaboration with the ENA educational farm. The 2.5 ha plot is divided into two large parts: on the one hand the botanical garden for the preservation of plant resources and the multiplication of seeds of interest. And on the other hand, the experimental part for plant production, in which there is a vegetable gardening part, an arboriculture-agroforestry part, a permaculture plot and a greenhouse system for the seed bank. The "school in the field" approach is taken in order to reach as many farmers as possible near the experimental sites. Members of the AGREE team would like to see the development of many pilot farms to encourage producers to test agro-ecological practices within their own farms.
In addition, the AGREE team is thinking about disseminating the results of their research. They are thinking of starting a project in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture on the introduction of agroecological practices among smallscale farmers in the Moulay Idriss region.
Written by Lise Oudda, LFC volunteer - March 2020.
Last modification : 09 Apr 2020.
Meknes National School of Agriculture
The Agroecology Environment research team (AGREE) within the National School of Agriculture of de Meknès aims to promote agroecological practices within agricultural holdings, in particular among small farmers.