Agricultural season in Morocco under threat

This article was written by Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat. Magharebia is an AFRICOM sponsored online news website dedicated to coverage of North Africa.  Since Oct 2004, Magharebia is the only regional website that publishes content identically in three languages: Arabic, English and French.

”]This article is about the recent cold snap in Morocco which is likely to reduce this year’s harvest. According to the Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhennouch, Morocco has seen temperatures as low as 6°C (42°F)  which has slowed crop growth around the country. In addition, rainfall levels are 60% below normal which has greatly affected sugarcane and potato production. The Moroccan government has allocated 110 million dirhams to support the struggling agricultural sector.

Economist Moha Zerouali reported to Magharebia that agriculture contributes to 20% of Morocco’s GDP and employs 40% of the national workforce. Poor agricultural yields will cause large perturbations in the Moroccan economy. The government had already revised its growth forecast from 5% to 4.3% for 2012 because of the projected reduced harvest. I hope that trouble within the agricultural sector does not lead to heightened unrest and continued protests throughout the country. With many farmers struggling this year, disillusionment with the King and government is likely to continue. This is unfortunate because Morocco needs time for the recent Constitutional reforms to take root and the affects to percolate throughout society. Reduced crop yields are likely to inflame farmers and prevent them from seeing any positive affects from the new reforms. Farmers’ feelings towards the government will be contingent upon the government’s ability to cover their losses and support the struggling economic sector.

To read more: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/02/29/feature-03

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New EU – Morocco Trade Deal

The European Union approved a bilateral trade agreement with Morocco on Thursday, February 16th, a deal that will expand the duty-free exchange of agricultural goods between the two parties. Starting this spring, 70% of the EU’s agricultural exports will enter Morocco duty-free, while 55% of Morocco’s agricultural exports will enter the EU duty-free. There was controversy over this deal because of concerns that it would negatively impact small-scale farmers in both Europe and Morocco.

According to reports from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), fruits and vegetables currently account for 80 percent of total EU imports from Morocco, and farming accounts for 13 percent of Morocco’s gross domestic output.