Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new plan

Morocco has submerged itself in what some economists call it passive economical output. Since the end of the colonization and to benefit the super powers it was lead to believe that agriculture economy is the best solution for this bright newly independent nation; yet this idea was deceiving and plain misleading morocco was France’s farm for products it couldn’t replicate and a good and cheap source of fish for the big brothers in Europe
Almost 60 years have passed and the country is still trapped in this farce, claiming that the agriculture is the future of Morocco. The only real successful agricultural country in the world is the USA and only because it is a much advanced farming economy as well as supported by a strong strategy of political and cultural world reach and markets at its mercy
The farming practices in morocco are archaic and can t compete internationally “even locally, Moroccans love Apples from Chili and raisins from Italy” it can t even achieve self-sufficiency. For this field to continue its 60 years of failure is a sign of poor government policies and absent strategic planning; it is a shame to keep feeding this failing enterprise hard-earned Moroccan money; anything less than full reshuffling of the country planning for new agriculture will be a continuation of failed policy and Moroccans ought to know that it is not wise or smart to literally pour water in the sand
A new plan should include the following steps
Shrinking the size of the Moroccan agriculture especially the heavily subsidized sectors
Modernizing the new agriculture
Developing new and profitable products
Producing locally but thinking globally: find world markets in need of Moroccan products
Producing smart and producing quality
Water management
Cultivating the farmer, the Moroccan farmer is still illiterate and ignores many techniques of modern farming
Sometimes it is better to shrink an enterprise to expand it later, the Moroccan agriculture is unregulated and is left to amateur  practices that drain resources rather than produce results, the government is called upon to address these issues to face the new challenges. It is safe to say that the old feudal methods are a thing of the pass
Israel is a small country by all norms but it has an efficient agriculture it feeds all Israelis and its products are all over Europe and American supermarkets
Soudan is a large country capable of feeding the entire planet but due to its poor and amateurial farming practices ends up importing 45% of it needs in food. The difference is management and strategy planning
While Israel created kibbutz with self reliance and encouragement to produce extra for external markets achieved substantial gains while Soudan kept a feudal system that created a  gap between poor and rich and ruined the country’s chances of being the agricultural nation by excellence
Morocco can learn from these examples, unfortunately it didn’t not so far, Sudan on the other hand is learning that it needs industry despite all its vast fertile land and abundance of water, Sudan now makes planes and some agricultural machinery.
The irony is the fact that industrial countries achieved enough development, modernized their infrastructure and benefited not only their factories but also their farms they invented machines products and strategies for all sectors most industrial nation achieved self efficiency and those who relied on agriculture ended up in the low ranking income and lost their chances

Consider the fact that one Microsoft Office Enterprise CD "full legal copy" costs the same as one ton of potatoes. Commodities are important in world trade but their price is dictated and imposed by companies and banks that set unfair rules on poor countries. Oil is cheaper than diet Pepsi!
While morocco awaits rain every year, China continues to transform its economy which is 100 times bigger than morocco’s to an industrial miracle from a feudal failure
For Morocco to defy the norms and declare itself an agricultural country with real and genuine desire for progress is foolish and plain absurd. Agriculture does not create wealth, it makes the feudals rich such as the AL AMRANI and IRAKI families because they own over a million hectare of land each and this does not mean that the other 34,999,998 Moroccans are getting a nickel from this wealth
For Morocco to achieve a sustained development in the magnitude of countries such as Turkey, Iran, Vietnam and others it needs a modern agriculture yet supported by an industrial sector worthy of its name the development that the Moroccan citizen can benefit from, not the beautiful hotels, the 5star residences and the marinas that he will not set a foot in.
The choices are clear, Morocco can’t make it with the current agricultural policy, and Morocco will fail at the first draught session, more efforts and know-how need to be implemented in an agro-industrial ministry, why not one minster for both sectors, Agriculture and industry are at least complimentary; it is much better than minister of Interior and Communication (Driss Basri). The agriculture Tsar will concentrate on making it one effort one policy and both sectors will need to go hand in hand. Smaller agriculture a diverse agriculture and mainly industrial support.
It is doubtful that the current prime minister of Morocco has any clue on how to tackle a complete change in Morocco’s output and how to introduce a clear and thorough program, detailed step by step on how to get Morocco out of this passive economy, it is highly doubtful that MR Prime Minister can come up with a plan to save Morocco and guarantee a real development independently of tourism and the expatriates « RME » and present it to the King for consideration. Not one minister is capable of detaching him or herself from the safety belt they all attached themselves with and not one minister would take a chance on changing wrong policies. They all play it safe so they can be chosen for future assignments, Morocco needs courageous people who can be innovative and who take the initiative to better the lives of Moroccans
Moroccans, Morocco and the king of Morocco will be better served by someone with these traits than an obeying minister.

Comments (13)  

Abou Mehdi
0 #1 real changeAbou Mehdi 2009-07-07 10:33
Before we tackle the agriculture or fishing problems, we have to rid Morocco of all bloo suckers from top to bottom. A truly new elected Gov has to seize all lands that sees necessary for the Advancement of the industry. Ex Ministers and generals took over vast lands just because of their positions and need taken back.The same goes for fishing licenses.

Regulations: I believe that Farms and Felaha are not taxed. That should change, since most of the farms are owned by filthy theifs who make tons of money when exporting their produce, and even when selling the left over to local markets.
The Gov has to have some plan; may be every region has to specialize on producing a certain product or two.
R&D: Morocco invest 00.00 dollars in Reseach including in Agriculture.
Water management: as you mentioned will be impossible especialy with the uneccessary Golf courses springing all over the country.
Education education
0 #2 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new planHmimarmad 2009-07-07 10:44
Instead of a czar or a useless minister, let's privatize the agriculture sector, Maroc telecom made a profit every year since taken over by the French.
You said it right, we are pouring water on the sand. Spain buys our safran or saffron packages it and labels it "Made in Spain' and sells it 30 times their cost, Italy buys our leather, and makes soft lamb made jackets and labels it "Armani/Valenti no/Ferragamo made in Italy"and sells it 200 times their cost.

In Morocco, you buy a jacket, you wear it for a couple of days, it shrinks. I am not even going to mention the sheep smell. Once I bought a leather jacket Morocco that was screaming BAHHHHHHHHHHH! and when I got home everyone asked why I dyed my neck black.
for author
0 #3 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new planfor author 2009-07-07 14:02
man you are brave, thanks for the article although I think yoiur plan may not work either
what morocco needs and you could not say it openly mr etamymy is
but thanks anyway
abou Sofiane
0 #4 Agro nutabou Sofiane 2009-07-07 16:24
Well done ! I agree that Morocco set itself for failure believing to be the agro-economic force feeding a techno-advanced Europe. Smart nations like Japan learned that agriculture business rely on land which is a finite resource in nature that eventually will exceed its capacity when the population growth rate exceeds a certain threshold or a limit. I think Moroccan small farming communities exceeded that equilibrium point very quickly since independance fueled by one of the highest population growth rate in the world. I grew up in a small farm in a family of 8. If everyone of us relied on farming, we would all be plowing 1/3 of an acre and most likely be poor, very poor, with no options. Many of my generation are immigrants in Europe and Americas because people realized that the future is in education, industry, and technolgies. Morocco made the historical error by building dams and extended the thousands of acres to already rich families while the rest of us lived on land considered "AArchiya" controlled by the Government through the "Credit Agricol" and other socialist programs.
Craig Mead
0 #5 CEO and Teacher - RESOLVING MOROCCO'S FOOD ISSUESCraig Mead 2009-07-08 09:31
I've said this before in other posts, but since we are talking about critical requirements for life, let me repeat myself so that we don't have these types of issues and crisis affecting the rich and the poor citizens or the tourists visiting Morocco: you have plenty of sun and an infinite supply of water sufficient to turn your entire nation into one of the biggest food producing nations on Earth. Someday, someone from your executive government will contact us and we'll explain the steps to get you there so this and a variety of your trade and economic and social issues vaporizes overnight.
0 #6 hope!Hmimarmad 2009-07-09 07:25
EIB LOAN FOR SCHOOLS IN MOROCCO is to lend EUR200 million to Morocco to help finance an ambitious school modernisation programme, improving access to education for six to 15-year-olds. The loan contract was signed on 7 July. The total cost of the four-year (2009-2012) programme is estimated at EUR3.1 billion, of which the Kingdom of Morocco plans to finance EUR2.6 bn. The EIB loan will cover roughly 40% of the external financing needs. The European Commission, Agence Francaise de Développement and the African Development Bank will also co-finance the programme.
A. A. El Haddi
0 #7 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new planA. A. El Haddi 2009-07-16 03:35
Ok, It is my day off so I am glad I saw this article :-)

Although I agree with some points in the article, lets be honest a bit. The dramatic change that happened to the food supply/chain from production to processing is undeniable. Major agricultural development initiatives where the precursor to the changes that you see everyday when you go to souks and markets in Morocco. You see more apples and melons and banana’s produced in Morocco rather than imported. Any one cares to remember import lists A and B in the 70s? You see more barley and wheat produced in Morocco. Poultry products became more affordable. Honey hives are everywhere, etc. I can give countless examples. The precursor was the result of a strong partnership between the University of minnesota, MIAC consortium(U of Nebraska, colorado state, Kansas, ..., USAID and Morocco(IAV, ENA, INRA, ...) to train more than 300 agricultural scientists (which used to account for 80% of all scientific publications in Morocco) from the 70s to late 80s gave morocco a big boost. Expansion of dams and water reservoirs helped not only the agricultural sector but the industry and the country as a whole by supplying electricity to the grid. The country is now hungry for more electrical power that it depends on the trunks in the sea bed that cross from spain (IEEE spectrum had a nice issue in early 2009 about this). Back to the cows! The major failures in agriculture are due to many factors 1) not enough efforts were put into dryland farming, watershed management, water use efficiency, soil water conservation, genetic improvement. I will not be surprised that many barley varieties 2) non functional extension service and poor adoption of effective techniques by the small farms in a chicken and egg situation 4) farms too small and complex land ownership (legal issues) 5) the slow death of research institutions such as IAV, ENA, INRA after the last reform that caused many scientists and researchers to simply stop working inside the institutions and focus on consulting outside the institutions (Unless they are motivated the exodus and shrinking of research output will continue). These institutions are critical since more than 50% of moroccans live in rural areas 6) I can give countless factors that continue to limit the output and block the achievement of the potential maximum output possible.

Now back to a single ministry “Mr le ministre de l’agriculture et de l’industry”. That will be a disaster. I think even the current single point of management of “agriculture and fisheries” is too large to manage. It is as if you combined “DNR-USDA-NOAA- Fisheries....DO E...” under a single secretary of agriculture. From a strategic organizational management, conflict management, regulation enforcement, ... the large size and conflicting interests will make such a large ministry very inefficient and riddled with problems.

I really liked the analogy of software. But to produce high quality software you need a trained and highly educated workforce across the entire organization (from marketing, application architecture, development, sales and distribution channels). As an agronomist and a software engineer I can tell you that producing potatoes takes less intellectual effort and inputs than producing high quality software like a word processor or a web service. The rate of change in both industries (agriculture and software) can not be compared at all. In one, the needs are almost static and in the other the needs and therefore the change is highly dynamic and your survival as a business entity depends highly on how you adapt to the fast shifting targets. Therefore the differences in pricing is understandable to a large extent. Some may say this is subjective. About 30 years ago Professor Hamoudi (at princeton now) gave an example of the price of coffee and of corn as examples of the subjectivity of pricing goods and if I remember correctly Julius Nureiri had the best definition. I strongly believe that Morocco can achieve a balance (between agriculture and various other industries and manufacturing). I would also add that Moroccan investors have the quick fix mentality. In the states the investors (Venture capital or Angel Investors) expect their investment to have an exit within 3-5 years (or shorter). Moroccan investors expect sure things and are not big risk takers(Try explaining stock options to Moroccan engineers who live in Morocco) so large construction sites for empty apartment buildings and villas will continue to replace forests and the best agricultural lands around large and small cities. Unless something is done to increase the productivity (which is very low across the board) no matter what sectors you jump into, the problems you cited will remain and Morocco will be priced out of all sectors globally. The education system in Morocco has taken a lot of steps forward and many backward. When, the focus is not on producing effective engineers but simply “a number of engineers” (3addi a baba 3aaddi!) the result will be another International division of labor where design/architec ture are in the north and testing in the south. When the high school product is incapable of following written directions your effective labor pool shrinks significantly. When there is no respect for intellectual property, there will be no uniform innovation and the capital will not pour in. But I can tell you that they are capable of being innovative and highly productive in some circumstances. I met some bright young people in the last few years who are capable to producing goods and services that can compete globally but I also met some that are not capable of producing anything(Walou! Htta matisha!).

Note for Craig the CEO: if you have some bright ideas look in fed biz opportunities and go through the bids :-) you may find something.


Colin Kilkelly
0 #8 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new planColin Kilkelly 2009-07-17 03:18
Would any of you very well informed people care to comment on The Green Plan of Minister Aziz Akennouch? I've read about it but I am not an agricultural expert!
0 #9 Hard but GoodNabilino 2009-07-17 16:56
Hard subject to tackle...Agricu lture's roots run deep in Moroccan Social life.

Sorry, but I was a bit confused about your article. There are times you encourage modernizing the sector and learning from other countries...yet you keep saying that Agriculture is the wrong choice to go with...Make up your mind!

I think it's crucial to achieve self sufficiency before trying to tackle world markets. I also think that with newer technology, Agribusiness can achieve miracles in Morocco.

So, sorry but I'm a supporter of agriculture and would advise the Gov't to find new ways to capitalize on the great Moroccan resources(Sun, good soil, and some good rain years)
0 #10 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new plan1 2009-07-19 22:39
.... morocco agriculture on US site.
at that day when morocco people complete to look into the
american's mouth waiting for new guidance they will
create food management programme adequate to it's demands and capabilities.

even thiese days there are more competitive
agricultural solutions(incl. import) then buying from US and EU.
a moroccan from brooklyn
0 #11 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Agriculture in Morocco: time for a new plana moroccan from brooklyn 2009-07-23 16:54
Hey zack and readers,
it is a very courageous article, i do no agree with you always/. this one I aploud your courage and honsety but i disagree to change morocco to a failed industrial nation..morocco is agriculture country because that is only thing it knows indsutry in morocco can't work because our people need education first..i remember you wrote an article about ilitracy in morocco and that i agreed with you
fix education first before agruculture and why not more democracy too then....agricul ture
but your words are correct: morocco will be better served with a courageous minister than obyant minister.
thank you
0 #12 excellent articleani 2009-12-04 09:53
This is a very excellent article! All true from what I know..there are Villages in Morocco that need water and so many things..I know of one in particular..nee ds many things..not everyone lives by National Parks! Yet water issues in the villages are so critical and yet the ones by National Parks perhaps get more help.. Everything needs to be reorganized to be a success..thank you for this very great article! ani
ngime bj
0 #13 infosngime bj 2014-02-04 14:02
hello thanks as y ou go on reading i am a young lover of agriculture and will,liket o work in any plantation or agricultural firm or eve company in morrocco i am als a technicien in agricuture thans

Add comment

While Morocco News Board encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published. Please Read Site's Terms of Use

To post Video, images and links please use appropriate button

Security code

Additional information

Copyright © 2007 - 2012 Morocco News Board, The News Source for Moroccan Affairs. | Washington, DC | Email: | Phone: (703) 623-8421 | MoroccoBoard News Service | All Rights Reserved.