A new sunshine rises: Agrifood in Morocco and new dreams for the population

The starting point of a wider view on a new transformation for Africa and its population is located directly into everyday meals; Even the smallest grain of wheat can make the difference. The sustainable agriculture represents a big step forward in agrifood terms.

Morocco is located in the Maghreb, in North Africa, its achievements in sustained economic progress are relevant for the GDP of the area but the most important part of this process concerns the significant domestic demandfrom the population. The “strong” demand influences the agrifood complement a lot because it enhances a new research to produce a lot in a short-term perspective with cutting edge techniques. All the energies are directed to raise the quality of agricultural products and improve the farm trade to share them all over the country. The agricultural sector is fundamental for Morocco (19% of their GDP) it employs the 40% of the country’s workforce. Wheat, orange, tomatoes, potatoes and olive oil are the greatest part of Morocco’s production except for grains, sugar and tea. The agriculture depends on rainfalls and for this reason it saw a larger deficit in 2016 because of a severe drought that the country experienced in that year.

In 2015 Morocco was the 6thlargest supplier of agrifood and sea food products with a 6.3% share (Source: Global Trade Tracker, January 2017).

These days, the Moroccan lifestyle trends have changed, in particular the dietary habits: people are ordering ready-to-eat meals while they are sitting comfortably on their sofa; this new way of life can be seen also as a consequence of the growth of the package food segment and the multiplication of modern grocery distributors in the country. However, Moroccan consumers are more and more aware about the health of their children in order to guarantee healthiest future generations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is investing a lot in the agrifood sector because of the importance of security for food. Despite of the water scarcity, the agrifood sector is also under pressure to limit its greenhouse gas emissions and this implies a stronger work on energy efficiency and natural resources. In the post-Arab spring atmosphere, Moroccan government has invested a relevant amount of time on public works and social safety. Egypt and Morocco are SEMED’s largest countries (the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region) and they have also he largest rural populations; they have to face an important challenge: child malnutrition and growing obesity. The agrifood sector plays a relevant role in the Moroccan region: it reduces unemployment and improves the land productivity, in particular the production of cereals to guarantee the sufficient source of nutrition for everyone.

The first step to change the status quo of the country is to promote a new “Moroccan agricultural sector”, it is meant to be open to all using different strategies. The new plan is called “Plan Maroc Vert”,“Green Morocco Plan; it can be seen as a new perspective by which the country can have a huge impact on the global GDP.

Food security is one of the most important priorities for the project, there will be an Input-Output analysis based and a rich comparative study among Morocco and other countries that have been successful in changing their agriculture, Spain, Chile, Mexico and India. It aims to achieve a “dual action” on agriculture that implies a minor participation of modern farms and a major part of farmers that are looking for a job; it is built on two pillars: 1) the development of modern agriculture and 2) the solidarity support for small farmers.

Sustainable irrigation: a short story to be long

The starting point regarding the discussion about new possibilities for Moroccan agriculture is a simple one; it is linked to water and the implementation on instruments to improve its distribution. Irrigation is practiced on only 16% of the cultivated land in the country, but its importance is even higher: it generates half of the GDP and 75% of agricultural exports (Adoption of Climate Technologies in the Agrifood Sector 2017). Moreover, climate change represents an obstacle and a serious challenge for local farmers. The promotion of a more sustainable irrigation model can be possible thanks to a new national plan, Plan National d’Economie d’Eau d’Irrigation(PNEEI), which has been supported by the World Bank since 2010. Water will be diverted from Oum Er Rbia river and distributed through canals and pipes; in this way new water-networks will help local workers to improve their productivity and guarantee safer food for the population. The implementation of the production comprehends a more accessible way to enter into markets and agribusiness clusters to see an increase in farmers income. This opinions are supported by Morocco’s Green Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV) with the aim of boosting both agricultural productivity and its exports. This last idea to improve the sector focuses on the main challenges of the country: poverty and weather-control system. The “future keys” for Morocco to open a new agrifood-world relate to a comparative analysis with other countries and an Input-Output plan of the evolution of agricultural indicators.

All in all, climate change and the characteristics of Morocco are the main factors that influences agrifood sector.

There is the necessity of fresh and smart minds to understand also the importance of international relations with the world. The positive impact on farmers’ incomes is the main issue for happiness and faith in the government. Modern methods and techniques should not be nderestimated: if people can appreciate working with new instruments the future will be bright and fertile for innovation.

Articolo scritto da Francesca Virzì per il Global Observer, in collaborazione con Fondazione Aurora.

Francesca Virzì

Etudiante au baccalauréat en Global Governance à l’Université de Rome Tor Vergata