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Learning Route Morocco - Farmers in agricultural politics

Posted by Greg Benchwick Friday, March 8, 2013

The learning route on Farmers’ Organisations in Morocco shows three different types of organisation to the ruteros, all with their own characteristics. The route has arrived in the region of Meknès, where ANOC is supporting sheep and goat producers.

After COPAG, the learning route started a long voyage to the Meknès region in the north of Morocco. The first stop was in Marrakech, where we smelled and tasted some traditional food and ceremonies at the Jemaa ef-Fna fair in the evening. The following morning we worked on the second case analysis, a very important step in the learning route (later more on that).

Then the bus took us to Beni Mellal, where Hicham Radi, director, and M'Hammed Riad, president of the Agricultural Chamber of Tadla-Azilal welcomed us warmly.

The 16 Agricultural Chambers in Morocco represent the agricultural producers and until the restructuration in 2011, mainly big farmers, local businessmen and owners of companies were elected. Now at least 20% of the elected have to be representatives of Farmers’ Organisations. M'Hammed Riad would like to see this percentage rise: ‘It’s good to have representatives of Farmers’ Organizations in the council, for it makes it easier to elaborate on plans for the local population and engage more people in it.’ 

After a great lunch and many questions and discussions in an informal ambiance with local administrators and representatives of Farmers’ Organizations, the route went on to M’rirt, almost 100 km south of Meknès. There the ruteros were going to meet the third experience of ANOC , the National Sheep and Goat Association with its headquarters in Rabat.

ANOC’s main objective and activity is the genetic improvement of sheep and goats. The ANOC case is quite special, as it brings together technicians (performing veterinary services that used to be provided directly by the state), with sheep and goat producers at local level and of all sizes. 

ANOC unites 73 farmers’ groups in 40 provinces all over Morocco and supports them in the genetic improvement of the sheep and goat races that have been indicated by region. For that, ANOC puts a technician and a car at the disposal of the group. The technician executes with the farmers a breeding programme for their livestock. Farmers pay their membership to ANOC and a prime per animal in the breeding programme (3 to 20 Dirham, according to the quality of the animals).

The farmers proudly presented their sheep and goats to the ruteros and were eager to talk about the positive results that ANOC has brought them: ‘Before ANOC farmers easily lost half of their herd or more, in case of epidemics or severe droughts,’ explains Mohamed Mourchid, ‘but now we know that we need to give them extra fodder and we keep a close eye on their health. We’re very happy that those thing do not happen anymore.’

ANOC provides an interesting example of delegation of a non-profit state service (which is genetic improvement of small ruminants) to a farmers’ association. It means that farmers participate in defining and giving shape to a governmental policy, for ANOC is steered by the general assembly  consisting of the presidents and treasurers of the farmers’ groups. The general assembly chooses a committee of 21 representatives from the 6 regions and two of the ministry of Agriculture, whom at their turn choose an executive board of 8 people.

Although the state finances the functioning of ANOC to a large extent (directly and indirectly), the farmers are put into a competitive scene, as the prices of the animals increase with their genetic status. This is measured every year by a technical commission, consisting of farmers, an ANOC technician and some representatives of the ministry. You don’t often see this kind of constellations, which stimulates farmers’ engagement in technical services.

After this interesting case, the learning route went on to the last station at Meknès, to synthesise all experiences and to work on Innovation Plans that will make sense in the countries of the ruteros. More on that tomorrow!

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