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The waters of the Mauloa River, one of Morocco’s largest rivers, have dried up beyond reach in the Mediterranean, “for the first time in its history”, according to environmentalist Mohamed Benata, threatening agriculture. Lands and biodiversity in the region.
As the retired expert explains when photographing the estuary near the northeastern tourist city of Saidia, the “reason for this tragic event is the river near the border with Algeria due to reduced river flow due to excessive consumption of the river”.
The severity of the drought disturbed the balance of nature in this agricultural area, occupying up to 15 km “of salt river water course, forcing farmers on its banks to abandon farming on their lands. Its effect on soil.
On one of those farms on the left bank of the river, watermelons appear pale yellow and decomposed with dried stalks, “even the pigs were rescued,” sighed Ahmed Hadivi, a farm owner in the area.
The 46-year-old farmer spent about $ 33,000 to plant in his fields this year, and two water pumps to irrigate the watermelons “but all have evaporated due to the lack of air, especially the salinity of the river water.” According to “Monte Carlo” the salinity reaches seven grams per liter, while the salinity of fresh water is assumed not to exceed 0.5 grams per liter.
Morocco, whose economy is a major sector, has been hit by a series of droughts in recent years. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the situation is expected to worsen on the horizon by 2050 due to declining rainfall (-11 per cent) and rising temperatures (+1.3 degrees).
Similarly, Hadivi’s cousin, who had grown herbs in a nearby field, lost the greenery and was frustrated to harvest the resulting pods, saying, “Due to lack of water, he avoided tasting the sweetness of the irrigation water for two months. The river uses water and its salinity destroys the soil for many years, ”said his owner Mustafa. Mustafa left the teaching profession to work in agriculture before being forced to abandon two-thirds of his 57-hectare land due to drought.
In addition to the harsh nature, Hadioui and most of the farmers who spoke to the AFP also pointed to the “mismanagement” of the river water and its over-exploitation by two pumping stations and three dams in the area. Although the second pumping station did not become operational until six months ago, Hadioui says, “This is a fatal blow to farmers in the lower Mauloa Basin.”
Fruiting farms far from the river front are preferred for irrigation water, which, according to farmer Abdul Rahim Jagnini (61), represents an “unequal section” and he too was forced to stop cultivating his family garden of 200 hectares. However, the regional director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mohamed Bosfu, explains that watering the trees is a priority “because we live in exceptional circumstances.” It is much harder to revive a dead tree than it is to replace a vegetable field.
He added that drought and salinity were the main reasons for the river water shortage. “As for the two pumping stations, they did not have a significant impact on its flow, and surveys were conducted before they were installed to avoid any imbalances in the river.”
“Worse than bad”
Further, the Ministry of Agriculture’s forecasts that the drought will lead to a reduction in the availability of irrigation water to “25 per cent” nationally by 2050. Farmers in the Mallavia region fear the impact of these environmental changes on their living conditions. Zakini feels hopeless about the future, saying, “What saddens me the most is that even though our land is ours, my children will have to work in other gardens.”
The situation is not much better on the right bank of the Mauloa River, which stretches for about 500 km from the Central Atlas Mountains. “We are plowing this land very hard, but today the situation is getting worse,” said farmer Samir Shodna. The young farmer adds, “Young people in the area are currently thinking only of emigration.”
On the other hand, environmental activist Mohamed Benata warns of an environmental catastrophe threatening the natural reserves of the most important river in the eastern region, saying “wildlife and plants will not go unharmed.” . “
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