- M. CHTAINI
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The Kingdom of Morocco is entirely committed to increasing rural income through agricultural development. Moroccans from all walks of life from the actual Minister of Agriculture on down who recognize the importance of conquering rural poverty, know that it will take time and money, and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
Because of the cultural foundation of the country, no Moroccan wants to see other Moroccans living in substandard conditions. Everyone wants to do something about poverty. Moroccans who have been involved in a sincere, dedicated way to reduce rural poverty
are very much aware of its dehumanizing impact on the poor. They are silently confronting poverty in all its aspects:
• Absolute Poverty
• Monetary Poverty
• Extreme Poverty
• General Poverty
• Relative Poverty
• Human Poverty
These Moroccans are aware that the impact of rural poverty is greatest on those younger than 15 years of age, girls, and female widowers.
To date, the Kingdom has made many successful achievements in its efforts to modernize agriculture and reduce rural poverty, including the following:
• Nearly 100 dams constructed to help provide hydroelectric power and water, potable and for irrigation;
• 1.5 million hectares of irrigated land;
• Modern agricultural education and training programs;
• Progress in rural electrification;
• Progress in rural literacy, health services, and education;
• Reduction in infant and mother mortality;
• Creation of rural cooperatives and associations;
• Progress in the diffusion and application of scientific research;
• Construction of a modern highway system;
• Establishment of schools of agricultural and veterinary science and research institutes.
• Establishment of agricultural training schools
Morocco is at the take-off stage in terms of achieving its agricultural modernization goals. In addition to the achievements noted above, it has the institutional infrastructure in place to advance this agricultural modernization process and create wealth while reducing poverty.
Since Morocco’s independence in 1956, The Kingdom of Morocco implemented agrarian reform and land redistribution to poor rural families. Lately, the Kingdom has reinforced the institutional infrastructure to enhance the viability of small family farms through the following programs:
Morocco’s office of rural development known as the Office Regional de Mise en Valeur Agricole (ORMVA) is organized in nine regional offices to introduce techniques and methods of agricultural modernization, to encourage cash crop production through the use of irrigation, and to organize small farmers into production cooperatives. The ORMVA manages irrigation water in their regions and also helps poor farmers develop small income-producing projects.
The National Initiative for Human Development (Initiative Nationale pour le Developpement Humain) (INDH) has contracted with 32 different entities of which 14 are consulting firms specialized in development. Many partners and donor countries have supported the INDH and joint efforts are mobilized to combat poverty in 403 rural communes, representing 3.75 million rural poor. The World Bank and donor countries stipulate the following benchmark: development of national expertise and evaluation follow-up.
3. ADA and the Green Plan
The Agency for Agricultural Development (Agence de Developpement Agricole) (ADA) manages the Moroccan Green Plan and the public land leasing initiatives. These actions and their participants seek to modernize Moroccan agriculture in a sustained development and capacity-building strategy. This is to be accomplished through public-private programs to expand the cultivation of export-demand-driven high-value products. The program will apply an aggregation strategy to develop capabilities of small farms and rural families to produce and market high-value crops and thereby increase their income. The program intends to reduce the acreage for cereals and increase the production of fruit trees and high-value export crops.
4. APP and the MCA
The Agency for Partnership for Progress (APP) manages the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which has the mission of providing knowledge and building capacity through its fruit tree development program focused on olives, almonds, dates, and figs. APP intends to accomplish this mission through ensuring an adequate balance in the aggregation process between farmers, large and small, including poor rural farmers. The APP, operating within limits of time and funding, is contracting with local and international development consulting firms of experts to accomplish its mission.
These four elements of Morocco’s institutional infrastructure are in place to facilitate the transformation of agriculture to a modernized, sustainable state.
Morocco’s Agricultural Development Agency (ADA) and Agency for Partnership for Progress (APP), The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) have contracted with development consulting groups to provide technical assistance in the production of selected crops under the Green Plan and the Millennium Challenge Account and in bringing capacity building to the 403 poor rural communes. The agricultural plans call for aggregation on the part of large farms to support small farms. Bluntly speaking, it calls on the rich farmers to uplift the poor farmers. The only place where this dichotomy of large farmers uplifting small farmers became reality is the State of California in the United States.
To help create wealth for Morocco’s large and small farmers in coordination with aggregation programs, the anti poverty Moroccans as “agents of change” are sincerely dedicated to working directly with the ADA and the APP and the INDH, to support the Kingdom’s efforts, and those of the contractors, by implementing strategies and extension service components that have proven themselves to be so successful and by applying common benchmarks to projects, building extension service capacity, enhancing the success of aggregation and marketing strategies, providing technical assistance and training to fill gaps in coverage, and ensuring follow-up in transparency and accountability.
The objective is that no longer is the country’s agricultural development, Morocco’s main vocation, going to be driven by business as usual. Morocco’s battle against poverty is on the move and you better get out if you are in the way. The Kingdom of Morocco has been aware of the fact that the wealth of Morocco is not its phosphate or its wealthy citizens involved in light industry and manufacturing, or its landlords, or its labor force, or its universities; the wealth of the Kingdom is the character of its people: The Moroccan people who are docile, yet hard working, poor, yet dignified, unhappy, yet jovial, provoked, yet forgiving, with the majority of its youth full of love, affection, solidarity and understanding and who has evolved in the last 20 years to be knowledgeable and task driven.
Mark my words, the Kingdom’s program for sustainable agricultural development modernization will bridge the gap between rural and urban disparities by providing jobs and income in the rural area creating new poles of growth out of the poor communes and adequately planned small towns out of villages and Souks while eliminating urban poverty in shanty towns and while saving the nature of the Kingdom’ soul: its identity.
AUTHOR:Mr. Motapha Chtaini spent almost 50 years living in the US with frequent return trips to Morocco. During this 50 years, He has earned two Master's degrees , one in Urban Studies and one in City Planning. He taught Urban Studies and City Planning at the University level for 20 years and served as Washington Bureau Chief of the Moroccan News Agency ( Maghreb Arabe Presse) for 20 years. He is currently an agrcultural and food consulant. These 50 years in academia, journalism, and business have provided Mr. Chtaini with a rich experience and a perspective that enables him to contribute his analysis on current events.