Skip to content
BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 31, 2018

Changes in livestock farming systems in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains

  • Ahmed El Aich EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Agriculture


This paper aims to characterize small ruminant farming systems in the Moroccan mountain regions and to assess undergoing socio-economic and ecological changes. Livestock farming systems in these regions are extensive with large flock sizes, especially sheep and goats raised mainly for meat production. Sheep producers utilized the inherent genetic diversity of their stock and developed adaptations to cope with seasonal availability of the mountain pastures and the need to diversify their own activities. Nowadays, farming systems in mountainous regions are undergoing socio-economic and ecological transformations that impact directly or indirectly on natural resources. Reduction and/or disappearance of herd transhumance, where flocks were moved seasonally from one climatic zone/vegetation type to another, was an important feature of the Middle Atlas sixty years ago Along with this reduced contribution from natural rangelands, other external resources and agricultural by-products (straw, stubble) are offered which make the system heavily dependent on agriculture. Intensification of feeding systems is associated with a choice for more productive but less hardy breeds from lowland areas. As a consequence of the reduction in mobility and the sedentarization of herds, there is an increase in the grazing pressure causing new and significant degradation of rangeland resources. Other profound institutional modifications concern the management and the utilization of the mountainous pasture. Indeed, the power of the group and the institutions for managing the resources is being replaced by the individual initiatives.


Auclair L., Baudot P., Genin D., Romagny B., Simentel R., Patrimony for resilience: Evidence from the Forest Agdal in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains. Ecology and Society, 2011, 16(4), 2410.5751/ES-04429-160424Search in Google Scholar

Barhdadi A., Ouarriche O., Contribution à l’étude de la dégradation des parcours du Moyen Atlas: Cas de la fraction des Ait Beni Yakoub des Ait Arfa du Guigou, Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 2011, 115 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Beaudet G., Les Béni M’Guild du Nord. Etude géographique de l’évolution récente d’une confederation semi-nomade. Revue Géographie du Maroc, 1969, 16, 3-80 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Beaufoy G., Baldock D., Clark J., The nature of farming: Low intensity farming systems in nine European countries, IEEP, WWF, JNCC, 1994Search in Google Scholar

Benchrifa A., Johnson J.D., Changing resources management strategies and their environmental impacts in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Mountain Research and Development, 1991, 11(3), 183-19410.2307/3673612Search in Google Scholar

Bernués A., Ruiz R., Olaizola A., Villalba D., Casasús I., Sustainability of pasture-based livestock farming systems in the European Mediterranean context: synergies and trade-offs. Livest. Sci., 2011, 139, 44-5710.1016/j.livsci.2011.03.018Search in Google Scholar

Bernués A., Riedel J.L., Asensio M.A., Blanco M., Sanz A., Revilla R., Casasús I., An integrated approach to studying the role of grazing livestock systems in the conservation of rangelands in a protected natural park (Sierra de Guara,Spain). Livest. Prod. Sci., 2005, 96, 75-8510.1016/j.livprodsci.2005.05.023Search in Google Scholar

Benelkhou H. et Azzouzi M., Etude de l’Utilisation des parcours dans la Fraction des Ait Beni Yacoub (Moyen Atlas). Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 2002, pp. 230 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Breman H., de Wit C.T., Rangeland productivity and exploitation in the Sahel. Science, 1983, 221(1), 1341-134210.1126/science.221.4618.1341Search in Google Scholar

Bourbouze A., Gestion de la mobilité et résistance des organisations pastorales des éleveurs du Haut Atlas marocain face aux transformations du contexte maghrébin, In Managing Mobility in African Rangelands: The legitimization of transhumance pp. 236 - 265, Edited by Maryam Niamir - Fuller, FAO and Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, IT Publication, 199910.3362/9781780442761.010Search in Google Scholar

Bourbouze A., L’élevage dans la montagne marocaine, Organisation de l’espace et utilisation des parcours par les éleveurs. Thèse de Doctorat Ingénieur de l’INA Paris-Grignon, 1982, pp. 345 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Chraibi E., Productions Animales en zones de montagne, étude comparée de la vallée de l’Azzaden entre 1975 et 1985. Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 195, pp. 153 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

El Aich A., Chiche J., Les systèmes de l’élevage de l’Atlas marocain, pp. 174-182, In Manuel de zootechnie comparée Nord-Sud, edts, Théwis A., Bourbouze A., Compère R., Duplan J-M. and Hardouin J. INRA Editions INRA et Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, 2005, pp. 606 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

El Aich A., Management of range resources in Africa: goals, constraints and policies. 3rd All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture and 11th Conference of Egyptian Society of Animal Production, Alexandria, Egypt, 6-9 November, 2000Search in Google Scholar

El Aich A., Waterhouse A., Small Ruminants in Environment Conservation. Small Ruminants Research, 1999, 34, 271-28710.1016/S0921-4488(99)00079-6Search in Google Scholar

El Aich A., et Bourbouze A., Quinze années après : Innovations et Transformations des systèmes d’Elevage dans la Vallée de l’Azzaden (High Atlas, Morocco), Symposium on Farming Systems, Saragosse, Septembre 1992 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

El Khamkhami, Etude de la charge et des systèmes de production des ovins dans la commune de Timahdit. Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 1988, pp. 153 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Gibon A., Managing grassland for production, the environment and the landscape. Challenges at the farm and the landscape level, Livestock Production Science, 2005, 11- 3110.1016/j.livprodsci.2005.05.009Search in Google Scholar

Madih I., Transformation des systèmes de production dans le Moyen Atlas entre les années 1970 et 2015, Cas de la commune rurale de Timahdit. Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 2016, pp. 201(in French)Search in Google Scholar

Mahdi M., Transhumance chez les Ait Arfa du Moyen Atlas: Ruptures et continuité, In Seminar: ‘’L’actualité de la transhumance dans le Haut et Moyen Atlas’’ 10 mars 2012, Ecole Nationale de l’Agriculture de Meknès, Morocco, 2012 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Montanari B., The Future of Agriculture in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco: The Need to Integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge, In the Future of Mountain Agriculture, (ed.), Springer Geography, 2013, pp. 51-7210.1007/978-3-642-33584-6_5Search in Google Scholar

Mouahidi M., Effet de la fréquence d’abreuvement sur les performances de croissance, la digestibilité et les caractéristiques des carcasses d’antenais Timahdit. Mémoire de 3ème cycle d’Agronomie, I.A.V. Hassan II, Rabat, 1999, pp. 77 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Msuya D.G., Pastoralism Beyond Ranching: A Farming System in Severe Stress in Semi-Arid Tropics Especially in Africa, Journal of Agriculture and Ecology Research International, 2015, 4(3), 128-13910.9734/JAERI/2015/19208Search in Google Scholar

Naciri M.,L’aménagement et le développement des montagnes au Maroc ; population/Environnement. Projet MOR/88/PO9. UNESCO, 1988, pp. 115 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Pielou E.C., Ecological diversity. Wiley, New York, 1975Search in Google Scholar

Stitou H., Recherche sur une stratégie de développement de l’élevage adaptée aux structures sociales de la montagne marocaine. Mémoire de fin d’études du Centre National d’Etudes Agronomiques des Régions Chaudes (C.N.E.A.R.C.), 1994, pp. 94 (in French)Search in Google Scholar

Shannon C.E., Weaver W., The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1949Search in Google Scholar

Strijker D., Marginal lands in Europe: causes of decline. Basic and Applied Ecology, 2005, 6, 99-10610.1016/j.baae.2005.01.001Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2017-01-21
Accepted: 2018-04-16
Published Online: 2018-05-31

© 2018 Ahmed El Aich, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

Downloaded on 2.3.2024 from
Scroll to top button