Cereal Killer

25 May 2007

In the wake of more frequent droughts, the independent thinktank Centre Marocain de Conjoncture has published a report in which it argues that Morocco should adapt its farming system to shifting weather patterns.

‘The droughts in the 1970s were experienced as exceptional events. Those of the 1980s and especially the 1990s and 2000, were seen as reflecting a likely “climate change” and rising frequency of these “anomalies”,’ says the report.

Though agreements with the USA, Egypt and other Arab countries are beginning to open markets for the small modernized part of the country’s agriculture sector, droughts are making it harder for small farmers to survive.

The government estimates that drought will cut this season’s cereal harvest to 2.05 million tons against 9.3 million tons last year, reducing agriculture’s share of GDP by about 40%. Agriculture provides income for 40% of Morocco’s population (30 million) and 40% of total employment.

In 2005 the Moroccan government launched a long-term plan to modernize farming methods and rationalize the use of water resources by replacing 52,000 hectares of land usually sown to cereals each year with olive and fruit trees, which consume less. Half of Morocco’s 1.5 million farmers own an average of five hectares of land, which they use largely to plant cereals, even in the most arid regions.

‘Larger farms, better structured and equipped, that do not produce cereals. Can we achieve this goal?” ran a headline in the business weekly La Vie Eco recently.

La Vie Echo

Centre Marocain de Conjoncture

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