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Witness: Questions about the effectiveness of the agricultural model in Morocco in the face of record inflation and climate fluctuations


This price hike coincided with the month of Ramadan, during which the level of consumption increases, which drew a barrage of criticism against the government of Aziz Akhannouch and calls for urgent measures to be taken to protect purchasing power.

The recent rise in the prices of agricultural products has exacerbated the level of inflation in Morocco, especially in light of climate fluctuations negatively affecting this sector, which has sparked calls to review agricultural policy to ensure food sovereignty instead of focusing on export. The inflation rate during the first quarter of this year reached 9.4 percent, according to the High Commission for Planning, compared to 4 percent in the same period last year. This is mainly due to the increase in food prices (+18.2 percent).

This price hike coincided with the month of Ramadan, during which the level of consumption increases, which drew a barrage of criticism from Aziz Akhannouch’s government and calls for urgent measures to be taken to protect purchasing power.

The Social Front, a coalition of leftist parties and unions, recently organized protest demonstrations in various cities, although their size remained limited.

However, the crisis also raised questions about the effectiveness of agricultural policy, which is the engine of economic growth in the country, equivalent to 13 percent of the gross domestic product and 14 percent of exports.

These criticisms were not only issued by the opponents, but also by the High Commissioner for Planning, Ahmed Halimi, who considered in an interview with “Media 24” that climate fluctuations make the agricultural sector “called for a revolution to change the production system, and move towards achieving food sovereignty, and to produce in the first place.” The first is what we consume.

Water economy

In the face of criticism, Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Siddiqui confirmed that the increases were due to external and circumstantial factors, such as a cold wave that delayed the harvest of tomato crops.

The minister praised the doubling of the sector’s gross product, since the adoption of the “Green Morocco” plan in 2008, from about 63 to 125 billion dirhams (about 6 to 12 billion dollars), despite the decline in rainfall by about seven million cubic meters annually since 1985.

The plan, which extends until 2030, made it possible to save about two billion cubic meters of water annually, thanks to modern irrigation techniques, and to start exploiting desalinated sea water, which today irrigates “about 90 percent of the tomato crop,” according to the minister.

However, the lack of rain, especially last year, contributes to exhausting the purchasing power of consumers. “Drought reduced the cultivated area, so supply decreased and prices increased,” explains agricultural expert Abd al-Rahim Handoof.

The prices of raw materials (seeds, energy, fertilizers…) imported from abroad have risen by “about 30 to 70 percent,” according to the Minister of Agriculture.

And if the “Green Morocco” plan made it possible to provide self-sufficiency of about 50 to 100 percent, depending on the production chains, the Kingdom is still hostage to fluctuations in the international markets for the prices of raw materials, and for wheat, which is a basic consumer item.

“food sovereignty”

Critics of the agricultural policy consider that the continued faltering of the agricultural sector is sufficient evidence of the need to review the policy related to it, in the direction of “ensuring food sovereignty that begins with the seed industry,” according to what Handov says, who adds, “We have a great delay in this field, although we have researchers who produce seeds, but they are Don’t shop.”

The researcher in the agricultural field believes that the use of seeds suitable for the local climate can raise the yield of grain from about 20 quintals per hectare currently to 30 or 40 quintals, provided that “agricultural guidance and modern technologies” are provided to medium and small farmers, “but the state is mainly concerned with large exporting farmers.” .

The Kingdom aspires to double agricultural exports from about 30 to 60 billion dirhams (about 2.9 to 5.9 million dollars) in the year 2030, as a “strategic” proof of seawater desalination.

The Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association said in a letter to the prime minister that the government is called first to reform the marketing system, which suffers from multiple intermediaries who “earn 3 to 4 times the value of the product,” calling on it to suspend the decision to export tomatoes, which was taken to ensure supply to the local market.

A few weeks ago, the government announced operations to combat speculators, but its spokesman, Mustafa Paytas, said that these measures “did not achieve what we aspired to.”

This crisis puts Aziz Akhannouch’s government under constant pressure, noting that inflation has continued since last year (6.6 percent) due to the rise in fuel prices.

In the opinion of the High Commissioner for Planning, “the rise in prices will become structural,” “until we complete reforms to improve productivity and cleanse marketing chains.”

In March, the Central Bank raised the main interest rate (3 percent) for the third time since September to control prices, in a decision that does not agree with the government’s directions, which is betting on reviving economic growth this year to 4 percent.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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