Programme  Poster session 3  abstract 215

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

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.

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Session: Poster session 3
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 plain’s geographical location, its pedoclimatic characteristics and its history. Mitidja is particularly

known for its fruit and vegetable production. The plain covers 1400 km² 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 Algerian’s subsidies to promote more efficient water irrigation systems like sprinkler and drip


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 farmers’ 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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