Other towns: Dry Farmtown
Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
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12 hours, 6.3 kms
Ben Ahmed is situated on a hilltop with a panoramic view of the stark countryside around. It has a couple of distinctly beautiful mosques and a nice little park in the center of town--but mainly it's a farmer's market town where rugged, weary village folks come in--mainly on horse and donkey carts to buy and sell their wares at the market... Unlike the Khouribga flatbeds, these horsecarts have nice little plastic canopies to shade the passengers.
I wonder, with the rise of gas prices, if these horsecarts are going to be even more popular means of transportation in the days ahead.
Benahmed is in the heart of an agricultural region--however it doesn't appear to be very prosperous (the only signs of real prosperity are the new cars driven by Moroccan-Europeans coming down to visit their families). Why the lack of prosperity? Well, it looks like very little of this land is irrigated--it depends on a very fickle rain cycle. A rain cycle that some predict will only get worse with the global climate change.
I get to talking with a watermelon vendor.
"It's been a really bad year" he says
"But everything looked so green when I was here back in February" I respond.
"Yeah, but the rain didn't come at the right time--last year was bad too"
"How about the year before?"
"Oh, that was a great year! But lately, we barely make enough to get by..."
Talking with a fellow who works at a flour mill a few days ago, he said "We depend very heavily on grain imports--for more than fifty percent of our staple foods. If Morocco were forced to live off of it's own agricultural production, the results would be disasterous..."
Not the kind of thing I like to hear... I wonder what lies in store for this beautiful country...