Agriculture in Morocco

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High Atlas, Boumalne du Dades.

Agriculture in Morocco employs about 40% of the nation's workforce. Thus, it is the largest employer in the country. In the rainy sections of the northwest, barley, wheat, and other cereals can be raised without irrigation. On the Atlantic coast, where there are extensive plains, olives, citrus fruits, and wine grapes are grown, largely with water supplied by artesian wells. Morocco also produces a significant amount of illicit hashish, much of which is shipped to Western Europe. Livestock are raised and forests yield cork, cabinet wood, and building materials. Part of the maritime population fishes for its livelihood. Agadir, Essaouira, El Jadida, and Larache are among the important fishing harbors.[1]

Moroccan agricultural production also consists of orange, tomatoes, potatoes, olives, and olive oil. High quality agricultural products are usually exported to Europe. Morocco produces enough food for domestic consumption except for grains, sugar, coffee and tea. More than 40% of Morocco's consumption of grains and flour is imported from the United States and France.

Agriculture industry in Morocco enjoys a complete tax exemption. Many Moroccan critics say that rich farmers and large agricultural companies are taking too much benefit of not paying the taxes and that poor farmers are struggling with high costs and are getting very poor support from the state.

Main products[edit]

Crate of clementine (mandarin) oranges from Morocco.

Below is a table of the agricultural output of Morocco according to estimates of the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation. Data is from 2009:

Rank Commodity Value (Int $1000) Production (MT) Quantity world rank Value world rank
1 Wheat 939,150 6,400,000 19 17
2 Indigenous chicken meat 635,889 446,424 NA NA
3 Olives 616,541 770,000 6 6
4 Tomatoes 480,433 1,300,000 17 17
5 Indigenous cattle meat 433,257 160,384 NA NA
6 Cow milk, whole, fresh 409,566 1,750,000 NA NA
7 Barley 389,709 3,800,000 12 7
8 Indigenous sheep meat 325,935 119,706 NA NA
9 Almonds, with shell 307,240 104,115 5 5
10 Oranges 231,910 1,200,000 14 14
11 Potatoes 230,032 1,500,000 NA NA
12 Hen eggs, in shell 221,668 267,267 NA NA
13 String beans 173,716 182,180 3 3
14 Grapes 171,485 300,000 NA NA
15 Apples 169,166 400,000 NA NA
16 Strawberries 168,627 124,239 11 11
17 Onions, dry 136,521 650,000 23 23
18 Other melons (inc.cantaloupes) 134,386 730,000 8 8
19 Tangerines, mandarins, clem. 128,945 522,000 12 12
20 Anise, badian, fennel, corian. 127,126 23,000 7 7
Source:
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2009 data:
[1]

Reform[edit]

The agricultural sector suffers from deep structural problems; it remains very sensitive to climatic fluctuations and to the pressures of trade liberalisation. This sector accounts for approximately 15% of GDP and occupies almost half of the population.[2] What is more, 70% of the poor live in rural areas, which results in a massive rural exodus towards the cities or the EU (often illegal emigration). The reform of the sector is not only essential in itself but is unavoidable because of the deadline for the liberalisation of agricultural trade with the EU. To be able to profit fully from this liberalisation Morocco will have to improve the health and plant health situation. The issue of what is effectively a water subsidy to promote the cultivation of cereals in unfavourable areas will need to be tackled.

Land[edit]

Morocco is endowed with numerous exploitable resources. With approximately 33,000 square miles (85,000 square km) of arable land (one-seventh of which can be irrigated) and its generally temperate Mediterranean climate, Morocco’s agricultural potential is matched by few other Arab or African countries. It is one of the few Arab countries that has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. In a normal year Morocco produces two-thirds of the grains (chiefly wheat, barley, and corn [maize]) needed for domestic consumption. The country exports citrus fruits and early vegetables to the European market; its wine industry is developed, and production of commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, sugar beets, and sunflowers) is expanding. Newer crops such as tea, tobacco, and soybeans have passed the experimental stage, the fertile Gharb plain being favourable for their cultivation. The country is actively developing its irrigation potential that ultimately will irrigate more than 2,500,000 acres (10,000 km2).

Drought[edit]

Nevertheless, the danger of drought is ever present. Especially at risk are the cereal-growing lowlands, which are subject to considerable variation in annual precipitation. On average, drought occurs in Morocco every third year, creating a volatility in agricultural production that is the main constraint on expansion in the sector.

Droughts are most commonly the main concern for farmers in Morocco due to the major agricultural production that is a massive part of Morocco's economy.

Hashish[edit]

Hashish resin

Morocco is the world's largest exporter of hashish, the resin from cannabis.[3][4] According to the World Customs Organization, Morocco supplies 70% of the European hashish market. Although statistics vary widely, hashish production is estimated to be 2,000 metric tons per year, with up to 85,000 hectares devoted to cannabis production, with a market value of $2 billion. In the mid-1990s, due to record rainfalls following drought years, European experts reported that the area under cultivation for cannabis increased by almost 10% (the average hectare of cannabis produces two to eight metric tons of raw plant). The rains of late 1995 and 1996 were a blessing for Morocco, ending a multi-year drought. Those same rains were a boon to the drug trade. In Tangier, this meant more jobs in the drug trade for those who could find no other work, particularly as the agricultural trade dried up with the drought.

Today, the drug trade continues to grow, with areas used for cultivation spreading beyond the traditional growing areas of the central Rif to the west and south in provinces including Chefchaouen, Larache and Taounate. This growth continues despite a well-publicized campaign in the 1990s to eradicate drug trafficking.[5]

Anti-drug policy[edit]

The Moroccan government's anti-drug "cleansing" campaign of the mid-1990s is instructive for both its pronounced inability to deter the drug trade's growth and what it revealed about the size and scope of the drug business. Growing drugs was briefly made legal under the French Protectorate but was declared illegal in 1956, the year of Moroccan independence. As European tourism and drug markets expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, a huge underground market for drugs developed, which was not only allowed by government officials, but encouraged.[5]

Livestock[edit]

Livestock raising, particularly sheep and cattle, is widespread. Morocco fills its own meat requirements and is attempting to become self-sufficient in dairy products.

Forests[edit]

Morocco’s forests, which cover about one-tenth of its total land area (excluding Western Sahara), have substantial commercial value. Morocco satisfies much of its timber needs by harvesting the high-elevation forests in the Middle and High Atlas. Its eucalyptus plantations enable it to be self-sufficient in charcoal, which is used extensively for cooking fuel. Eucalyptus also provides the raw material needed for the country’s paper and cellulose industries. Paper pulp is a valuable export as is cork from the country’s plentiful cork oak forests.

Fishing[edit]

The fishing grounds in the Canary Current off Morocco’s west coast are exceptionally rich in sardines, bonito, and tuna, but the country lacks the modern fleets and processing facilities to benefit fully from these marine resources. An important part of a major trade agreement Morocco concluded with the European Union in 1996 concerned fishing rights, by which the EU pays Morocco an annual fee to allow vessels (mainly Spanish) to fish Moroccan waters.

See also[edit]

References[edit]