In April 2008 Morocco adopted a new strategy for the development of agriculture called the “Green Morocco Plan”. This strategy, which aims to make agriculture a driver of the growth of the national economy, is articulated around 2 pillars:

· The development of modern agriculture with high added value, and

· The upgrading of a social and solidarity-based agriculture for the poverty alleviation.

To cope with the growing scarcity of water resources, the GMP and the National Water Sector Strategy (NWSS) have adopted a National Program for the Water Economy in Irrigation (PNEEI) which is part of the transverse component of the GMP map. Even water saving in the irrigation sector in Morocco is an old objective, this program has the particularity of being prepared in a new political, environmental and socioeconomic context characterized by:

· In terms of water supply: An increasingly restrictive water context characterized by climate change, over users of water resources and water table degradation,

· - In terms of water demand: An increase of water demand and competition over conventional water resources

Clearly, irrigated agriculture is the sector most affected by water restrictions because of the of the unpredictable increase in the demand for drinking water (which benefits from the priority in terms of allocation in a situation of scarcity) and the reduction in water supply to dams on the groundwater. In other words, all these restrictions have affected irrigated agriculture with all the range of negative impacts on crop productivity, crop intensification, and water productivity. Other impacts on production and on farm income, the reduction of employment opportunities in rural areas, the acceleration of the exodus to cities are expected.

So this political will implies new approaches embodied in the framework of the PNEEI by the collective modernization projects of irrigation systems in the perimeters of large scale irrigation. It is for the State to act by:

· Financial incentives for projects aiming water saving. Up to now only 34,900 ha are converted to drip irrigation (5% of the areas managed by the State).

· The creation of hydraulic and development conditions favorable to the conversion to water saving irrigation techniques and the overall modernization of production systems.

It’s not a matter of modernizing the irrigation systems at the risk of disempowering the farmers who are the key players in this process. The solutions to be sought are probably social as well as economic and technical, in particular through a voluntary change in which the public authorities act as a catalyst to help farmers modernize their production systems and guarantee their income while enhancing water resources use sustainability. It’s a question of stimulating a triple mutation and transformation of irrigated agriculture by introducing drip irrigation associated with other alternatives. A transformation of production systems towards systems with higher added value and modernization of water management and governance instruments to increased stakeholder accountability for irrigation systems, irrigation management and groundwater resources.

NPWS aims to convert to localized irrigation of nearly 550,000 ha in 15 years including:

· Large scale hydraulic schemes (GH): within 395,090 ha a total area of 218,000 ha will be covered. In these irrigation perimeters, the objective is to accelerate the modernization of collective irrigation systems;

· Private irrigation zones (IP): 160,000 ha corresponding to 50% of the area irrigated by flooding. In these areas, the plan aims to develop appropriate mechanism such as financial, incentive and institutional, that can contribute to the conversion to drip irrigation. The area converted to the new irrigation system will reach 700,000 ha.

The program is organized around five components: 1) Collective modernizations of large hydraulic perimeters (including upgrading irrigation networks); 2) Private modernizations; 3) Valuation of agricultural productions (market and prices); 4) Strengthening technical advice; and 5) Other measures such as aid procedures simplification and the organization of the institutions and actors involved in the sector.

The expected impacts of the NWSP are water saving about 20% to 50% by reducing water losses, reduce the vulnerability of irrigated agriculture to climate change through better control of water resources, the increase of water productivity from 10 to 100% depending on the crop; the increase in water valuation by nearly 114% (5.12 Dh/m3 instead of 2 Dh/m3); the increase of agricultural income; the increase of national agricultural production and the contribution to the commercial balance and the maintenance and creation of new jobs.

What is important to notice in this new strategy of water use is that the ministry of agriculture perceives water governance through the improvement of irrigation system and all associated technologies, institutions and policy options. It’s clear that more efforts are needed to value science and social knowledge.