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Morocco agribusiness report

Agriculture is Morocco's largest employer, accounting for almost half of the population, although its contribution to GDP is considerably less than both the industrial and services sectors where educated Moroccans are increasingly attracted. Over the years, as this dynamic has intensified, and urbanisation has exacerbated soil degradation and intensified pressure on farmers to produce more food on less land, Morocco has become more reliant on exports to fulfil consumption needs. However, realising the uneconomical drain on the domestic budget of ever increasing food imports, the government has in recent times sought to address this by way of a number of initiatives aimed at making the sector more attractive to the younger, educated generations, as well as to foreign investors. BMI's latest Morocco Agribusiness Report Q409 is published as this drive continues, while economists are increasingly optimistic that the global recession has bottomed out. Notwithstanding the drought that has ravaged the region in recent years, Morocco is able to successfully produce an array of goods, notably fruits, vegetables and pulses; mainly in the Mediterranean climate towards the North of the country. This allows for the export of these products into Europe, as well as to the Maghreb and wider MENA regions. In addition, food processing and packing are quite well developed in some areas. However, the Moroccans are dependent on grains and other staple imports due to the tightness of the domestic water supply and lack of irrigation. This situation reached a head as global commodities prices rocketed in 2008 amid aggressive buying from similarly import dependent nations. As such, the government has shown earnestness in its efforts to engender greater self-sufficiency. On average, Moroccan land is subject to drought conditions every three years, so the creation and upgrading of existing irrigation remains a priority, particularly when considering the rapid pace with which urbanisation is occurring, which, in turn, leads to a shifting dynamic of domestic water supplies from the countryside to the towns and cities. The Moroccan government has included irrigation as one of the central factors in its US$21bn 10-year plan to diversify and modernise national farming. Research centres have been established where it is hoped innovations that will shape the future productivity of the industry will be made. BMI is particularly optimistic about the outlook for Morocco through to 2013 with double-digit growth forecast in practically every group covered in our report. The grains will lead the charge with wheat, barley and corn production expanding by 164%, 95% and 20% respectively. The most notable mover is barley as we predict that morocco will go from being an importer to being completely self-sufficient, which, in turn, will prove favourable to livestock producers who will be able to turn their backs on barley imports. Corn and wheat, both coming from low initial positions will show marked growth although robust consumption growth over the period will lead to a swelling deficit. We believe more favourable rains will benefit farmers, as will the adoption of modern farming techniques, improved management practices and relevant seed types. Dairy consumption will show strong growth across the board, a dynamic that will increase in accordance with rising disposable incomes. Sugar imports will similarly remain substantial despite a 30% increase in production to 2013; Moroccans are among the highest consumers of sugar in the world and we do not see a change in this dynamic in the medium term, although, as we have seen in a host of developing and richer nations alike, increasing health consciousness is lending itself towards lower consumption of sugar based drinks and confectionaries. As the industry continues to develop and increase productivity it is highly likely that the growing number of the many small-scale family farms will be forced to exit the industry as mechanisation and economies of scale take precedent. This will help give rise to a more commercially viable and efficient industry, which will similarly enhance the food security outlook, while becoming a more attractive prospect to potential farmers and investors.

by S. C.
19 december 2009, World News > Africa

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