A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

2016 IASM: Focus on Moroccan agriculture

May 2, 2016

The 11th edition of the International Agricultural Show in Morocco was held in Meknes between April 26 and May 1, 20161. Organized around the theme of “Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture” with a view to the COP22 that will be held in Marrakesh next November, the show welcomed over 800,000 visitors and provided an opportunity to chart the state of Moroccan agriculture and its role in the Middle Eastern and North African area as well as in the international arena.

Boosted by the “Green Morocco Plan” initiated in 2008 by the current Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhanouch, today’s Moroccan agriculture employs approximately 40 percent of the country’s workforce, and accounts for 16.6 percent of the national GDP (2013 data)2, thus turning agriculture into one of the cornerstones of country’s economic development. The 2015 budget earmarked for agriculture and fisheries was €950 million, or 4.1 percent of the national budget.

Yet while agriculture is considered as a key strategic asset, the sector is hindered by major structural drawbacks, such as the current drought that is triggering significant damages on the 2016 harvest. According to the National Grain Council, only 5.2 million tons of grain will be produced this year, far from the 11.7 million tons of the 2015/2016 crops3. For the past ten years, grain self-sufficiency has fluctuated from 35 to 80 percent due to weather conditions. As a result, imports should reach the record level of 7.1 million tons, thus leading to a decline of 7 to 5 million tons in stocks at the end of the harvest.

Considering Morocco’s sensitivity regarding imports, the nation has developed a policy to control imports and stocks in order to influence prices. The National Inter-professional Office for Cereals and Leguminous Plants (ONICL) monitors stocks for the various operators (and can impose a minimal level), and manages import tenders, especially those involving tariff agreements with the EU or the US.

While government intervention has declined since the implementation of the structural adjustment programs in the 1980s, the import liberalization initiated in 1996 remains incomplete, with the government remaining very engaged to support grain production and consumption (flour subsidies). The government supports soft wheat producers’ prices and imposes higher customs taxes for grain imports during the harvest season to support consumption of local products. In addition, the sector is highly organized, as the authorities incite farmers to cluster in cooperative businesses, especially in the grain sector.

For Sébastien Abis, Morocco has also focused “its diplomatic relations around agriculture”4. In fact, Morocco has strengthened its relationship with the European Union (EU advanced status), the United States, Southern America, as well as with Russia. More importantly, the country turned to the South nations, especially in Sub-Saharan African nations. The Russian embargo on European exports––“a manna for Morocco!”5––sped up Russo-Moroccan trade relations, especially with the opening of the direct Agadir/Saint Petersburg shipping line, which provides Moroccan farmers with a better approach to the Russian market, primarily regarding early vegetable and fruit segment.

Moreover, it is also interesting to note that Morocco also serves as an incubator for new considerations on Mediterranean agricultural policies. The creation by the Moroccan OCP Group (formerly known as the Office Chérifien des Phosphates, a global leader in phosphate and its derivatives products) of the Moroccan think tank OCP Policy Center6 is an example. Focusing on the future and the role of emerging countries, it assesses their geopolitical scope, and analyzes strategic sectors such as agriculture and food security. As a sign of its involvement and its grasp of current economic challenges, its first forum was held in 2014 on price volatility, especially in agriculture, and was jointly organized by Research Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Center for Technology and Economic Development of New York University7.

In light of these factors, it seems that Morocco is setting itself up as an example for the role given to agriculture in economic and social development. The coming years will show if other nations in the African continent will follow suit.

1 SIAM’s website is available from

2 Ministry of Agriculture

3 http://lemagazinedumanager.com/13736-maroc-les-organisateurs-du-salon-international-de-lagriculture-affichent-un-ere-optimiste.html
4 Mediterra report 2014, CIHEAM

5 Driss Sentissi Idrissi, President of the ASMEX, the Moroccan Exporters Association
6 http://www.ocppc.ma/
7 http://www.ocppc.ma/events/conferences/international-conference-food-price-volatility-causes-and-challenges-(...)

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