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Trends in Agricultural Water Demand for the Mitidja irrigated plain (Algeria).

Congress: 2008
Author(s): P. Le Goulven, S. Bouarfa, M. Chabaca
Le Goulven P., Directeur de recherche IRD Montpellier. Bouarfa S., Chercheur Cemagref Montpellier. Chabaca M., Enseignant-chercheur INA Alger.

Keyword(s): Water demand, Mitidja, collective farms, irrigation practices.
AbstractThe work presented in this paper is based on decisions related to irrigation practices at farm level in the Mitidja plain (Algeria). In order to determine irrigation water demand evolution, we attempt to identify the important parameters on which farm-irrigation decision-making is based. The resulting global water demand trends taking into account possible socio-institutional changes are than deduced from this analysis. The Mitidja plain provides an important agricultural production for Algiers city. This production is linked to the plainís geographical location, its pedoclimatic characteristics and its history. Mitidja is particularly known for its fruit and vegetable production. The plain covers 1400 km≤ and holds significant groundwater reserves, which have provided favourable irrigation conditions for several decades. During the 1980s, a large irrigation scheme has been carried out in order to protect the groundwater resource. However, despite a great part is actually irrigated which is estimated to 60 % of the total area, only 20 % is actually irrigated from the scheme due to quality services problems. Furrow irrigation (gravity-driven furrow irrigation) still remains the most common irrigation technique, despite Algerianís subsidies to promote more efficient water irrigation systems like sprinkler and drip irrigation. The aim of this paper is to assess changes in irrigated area, and resulting farm water demand taking into account farm and farmer diversities as well as current water supply constraints. We first identified processes, which control farmersí decision making with regards to irrigation practices. This work was carried out on 180 farms, which represents 50% of the officially listed farms. These farms are mainly collective farms, which represent 80% of farms and correspond to 90% of agricultural surface area. The rest is individual farms. Conflicts between assignees are frequent in collective farms and lead to annual leasing of lands with consequences on farm water demand, which fluctuates annually. Furthermore, the coexistence between tenants and regular assignees in the farm lead to heterogeneous water demands linked to different crop rotation and land-use strategies. Social arrangements on water usage and access rights between these two types of farmers are also analysed in the paper.
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