International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Impact of Drought on Livestock Productivity in Morocco

Bahija Chaarani

Department of Animal Production, National School of Agriculture, Meknes, Morocco


In Morocco since the 1980’s, drought has become more frequent and more severe that it is now a structural problem, affecting agriculture and national economy. This study was carried out to determine the impact of drought on livestock systems and their productivity in the central region of Morocco, called Saiss area. Data were collected from the local administration of the Ministry of Agriculture over a ten years period (1995-2004) and by investigating a sample of 225 breeders over two years. Data analysis brought out 3 drought indicators related to livestock.
Pertinent drought indicators are represented by forage crop yields and the prices of animals, which decreased with drought and feed prices which increased in dry years. Fairly pertinent drought indicators are represented by flock size and prices of fattened livestock which decreased during dry years. Poorly pertinent drought indicators are represented by the number of slaughtered animals which decreased for sheep and increased for cattle during dry years. These indicators are very important to set the appropriate measures to reduce the drought impact on livestock.
On the other hand the field investigations showed that the amount of feed produced as well as cereal yields decreased in dry years, whereas the amount of purchased feed increased with drought severity. The duration of supplementation for sheep, goat and cattle was only 3 months in humid years whereas in dry years it increased up to 12 months. Drought induced modification in breeding systems which changed from an extensive type, based on pastures and fallows contribution, to a semi intensive type, based on supplementation.

This field investigation showed also a decrease in animal prices, fattening activity and flock size. Fecundity, fertility and numerical productivity rates also decreased during dry years. The highest mortality rates were recorded in dry years with an average of 16% versus 6% only in humid years.

Keywords: Drought, livestock systems, productivity, Morocco