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Drought threatens crops in Morocco

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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors


Dead trees and parched fields stretch as far as the eye can see.

On plains overlooking Agadir, in southwestern Morocco, water has become so rare that it is diverted from the agricultural land to households.

The region has been struggling with terrible droughts for the past three years and the local dam has run almost dry.

"A lot of farmers stopped their activities after the water was cut off by the dam," said Ahmed Driouch, a Moroccan farmer. "All the crops had dried up, the beans, the clementines, all of them dried up."

"If there was water, I could cultivate my land, but there is no water," added Wahid Aguertite, another farmer from the area.

"The cooperative has only one well and that is not enough for the 60 members. Everyone needs 10 hours of irrigation per day, and that's not enough: my land needs a lot of water."

With the drought, the authorities have had no other choice than to deprive farms of irrigation to provide a drinkable supply to nearly a million Moroccans.

The "irrigation of golf courses and hotel gardens with drinkable water" is also forbidden.

"The last three years have been characterised by a very pronounced drought, which means that water reserves at the level of the dams today are at a very low level," Abdelhamid Aslikh, head of Agadir's water reserves agency, explained. 

"Historically, we have never seen such low levels on a basin scale, so this is worrying data."

Morocco's economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for nearly 15 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, ahead of tourism and industry.

The drought spells disaster for citrus fruits and seasonal vegetables.