Ingenious Agricultural Heritage in Cold Oases Connected to Collective Grazing Areas (Haut Atlas, Maroc)

  • Jean GaultEmail author
  • Seddik Saïdi
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 5)


In the High-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, cold oases connected to rangelands and collective grazing areas have been created by Amazigh people despite extreme climate conditions. Throughout the centuries of isolation, they have maintained their cultural heritage (agricultural, social, artisanal and linguistic). These people and their culture are today recognised by the Moroccan Constitution as an integral part of national identity. Over many centuries, they have developed astute systems to manage natural resources, which are still in place today, to ensure food self sufficiency. Indeed, varieties of wheat, barley, corn, alfalfa, apricots, almonds, etc. are exceptional, as well as varieties of aromatic and medicinal plants. There is also one bee species, and associated biodiversity (fishes (salmonids), mammals, reptiles…). The rational use of rangelands for grazing is well established; fertile areas (agdals) are controlled by precise regulations dependent on rotational system (fallow time and grazing pressure limitation). Water management is controlled by a local hydraulic and legal culture: century old conducts: khettaras, and customary right and institutions. The authors are grateful to IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) (through OXFAM (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) Italia) to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) programme GIAHS (Global Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems/Systèmes Ingénieux du Patrimoine Agricole Mondial, SIPAM). They describe an “ingenious agricultural heritage system” in Imilchil and Amellago: biodiversity and associated biodiversity, water and soil resources, cultural heritage, income generation for women, and tourism potentialities. Measures are proposed to dynamically conserve this culture and its associated biodiversity, in the present context of economic, cultural, technological globalisation. This paper (in itself, this partnership is already an achievement of cultural diversity, involving six languages, including Latin, and connected cultures and know-how. Some species names are in French, some varieties names are in Amazigh, all species names are in Latin) is a result of a fruitfull partnership between IFAD [financing this study to FAO through OXFAM Italia (Initially ,UCODEP, Unité et Coopération pour le Développement des Peuples)], GIAHS programme, focal institution INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) Maroc, the French ministry of Agriculture (CGAAER) (CGAAER is a high-level advisory body to the Minister, one author is presently member of CGAAER, Conseil Général de l’Alimentation, de l’Agriculture et des Espaces Ruraux), local partners Adrar (this means in Amazigh: mountains) and ORMVAT (Office Régional de Mise en Valeur Agricole du Tafilalet, ministère marocain de l’Agriculture): in itself, this partnership is already an achievement of cultural diversity, involving six languages, including Latin, and connected cultures and know-how (Not to say: «Weltanschauung», vision of the world). They would also like to thank the Conseil Général du développement agricole (Morocco), for its support and advices.


Cold oases Agdal Khettara Seguia Ingenious agricultural heritage Cultural values Amazigh identity Customary rights Jmaa Urf Biocultural diversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ingénieur général des ponts des eaux et des forêts, ministère français de l’agriculture, de l’alimentation, et de la forêtCGAAERParisFrance
  2. 2.Chef de Département Amélioration et Conservation des Ressources Génétiques, Division ScientifiqueINRA Maroc, BP 6356 Rabat InstitutRabatMorocco

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