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Introduction To The Moroccan Agriculture History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

With tourism, agriculture in Morocco is one of the economic sectors on which the country relies to sustain its population, but also to export agricultural products and earn foreign currency.

With 40% of the population living in the countryside, the agricultural area is estimated at about 9. 500.000 hectares, representing 95.000 km ², the equivalent of 3.11 times the area of a country like Belgium.

The country’s main agricultural products are composed of cereals (wheat, barley and maize), sugar beets, sugar cane, citrus fruits (Oranges, Clementine, Grapes, vegetables, tomatoes (Guelmim and Dakhla in the moroccan Sahara for greenhouse tomatoes, and aboveground, olive, hemp and livestock). The first area of early production of the country is in the Souss valley, in the Souss-Massa-Draa region, which produces 685.000 tons of vegetables. 95% of national export tomatoes and 660 000 ton of citrus fruit, half for exports are issued from this region.

But cereal production in particular, and the overall agricultural production remain very dependent on weather conditions.

The current Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Aziz Akhennouch, who is also president of the Souss-Massa-Draa region, announced in April 2008 a program defining the policy of the kingdom for ten years, with increased emphasis on “Agriculture high value – high productivity for the small farming.

Under the colonization

Throughout the period of colonization, France has fully understood the advantage it could derive from the exploitation of the fertile lands of Morocco. Better yet, the colonizer has used farmland to interest the French peasants and encourage them to settle in Morocco. Thus the French snatched land from Moroccan farmers who flocked to the French possession of these lands, the most fertile country. Today, in the plain of Chaouia and even near Casablanca, there are farms that resemble peasant buildings in France with their red-brick roofs. This was even the means by which France had divided Morocco into two main parts called today: useful Morocco and useless Morocco.

The useful Morocco extends throughout the Atlantic coast from Tangier to Oualidia, this part of the country that has fertile land and important agricultural yields; the rest of the country has not benefited from investments to enable it to take off. These regions considered unnecessary, have been abandoned. Only with King Mohammed VI that these things have changed. There is a development of all regions of Morocco today.

Agriculture under Hassan II

Immediately after independence, our country has given full importance to its agriculture.

The reason is simple: the overwhelming majority of Moroccans were living in the country in 1956, when the the French departed.

Since those days, farming has always been a high priority sector in the development of our national economy. The budget allocated to this sector comes third after those of the National Defense and Education.

Hassan II had given his orders to allot agriculture tremendous advantages. The objective was clear: all efforts to stop the rural exodus because cities, especially coastal cities like Casablanca, Rabat and El Jadida suffered a massive arrival of rural inhabitants fleeing drought and suffering from the virtual absence of educational, medical and industrial infrastructures. Thus considerable efforts have been made in this sector, which continues to enjoy many benefits such as :

Construction of€ several dams;

Tax exemptions(customs duties);

Grants (energy);

Moroccan agricultural production:

The cereals : Cereal Primary (wheat, barley), coarse grain€ (rice);

Legumes: beans, chickpeas, peas …

Citrus: oranges, lemons

The inside scoop: tomatoes, potatoes, other fruits and other vegetables;

Viticulture: Table grapes, raisins and wine;

The olives: olives and olive oil;

As well as other products such as oilseeds, sugar cane, cotton, sheep, goats and other…€ 

Agriculture characteristics:

Two basic types characterize agriculture in our country:

A traditional€ agriculture: It is the most dominant because the overwhelming majority live in rural areas. The statistics suggest that this type of farming interests nearly 80% of cultivated land.

A modern agriculture: Farmers of such investments to export their products mainly in Europe.

-1 The traditional sector:

It has the following characteristics:

They are mainly small farms that often family inherited and is reduced to limited areas;

The lack of€  small-scale structure since the small farmer working his own land. Just two or three years of drought is enough to make the farmer go bankrupt unless he gets a loan from “Credit Agricole” to finance a new crop year.

The logical consequence is a very inefficient product the farmer will use to support himself and his family.

Therefore, it is easy to say that traditional agriculture is an economy that does not guarantee any future to the small farmers. Subsistence economy does not allow a financial return that could be reinvested to improve and advance the operation, leaving his small stature operation to another, more powerful. So either the farmer resigns himself to continue to live miserably or he sells everything and goes to swell the number of the unemployed in large cities.

the modern sector:

It consists of two elements:

The modern capitalist sector: It is a system that replicates the one in force at the time of colonization. The farmer, usually very rich, and therefore has the means to buy very efficient agricultural machinery. It also uses large quantities of chemicals to improve production. Besides, any production is destined to be exported, mostly to the European market. Farm size is very important and is located in the fertile land. It is actually made of farms that belonged to French settlers that the Moroccan State has recovered in the early 70’s as part of the “Moroccanization” of farmland. These lands were redistributed not to the original owners but to government officials and senior officers.

The semi modern area still recovered land after independence. The difference with what has been presented in the previous paragraph is that the Ministry of Agriculture, which oversees the land …X?. The Department provides grants and encourages banks, especially the “Crédit Agricole” to help farmers financially. Often, they have nothing to do with agriculture. We remember that some years ago, the Moroccan athlete Hicham El Guerrouj got a farm of 300 acres of oranges near Berkane, his hometown. He got it under a rental form for a period of 99 years, This was a way to reward him for having raised the flag of Morocco during the athletics meetings.

the problems of the modern sector :

In spite of efforts€ by the Moroccan State, these agricultural structures suffer from a lack of basic infrastructure;

Between regions that are irrigated (13% of the “utile” Agriculture Area) and those who expect the blessings from heaven, that is to say the rain (representing the remaining land), there are huge inequalities in terms of equipment and activity. Revenues of the country benefit more than urban dwellers to the countryside.

Another major problem lies in the fact that the rural population which accounts for half of the Moroccan citizens, do not even have a third of the wealth of the urban world. They have very little equipment: a few educational institutions, especially colleges and high schools, the administrations are far and few hospitals, etc.

Rural people are so poorly trained, ill-treated. Maybe it’s for this reason that Morocco ranks 125th in human development index;

Moroccan peasant€ lives with rain. He waits impatiently. If water becomes scarce, the drought is equivalent to one year of lost agriculture and therefore a considerable financial loss. Therefore, people are investing little in agriculture especially in case of problems, they are not sustained and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, which lets them deal with their meager resources

As if this were not enough, they are, since the beginning of the 2000’s, victims of unfair competition from companies that import food products in a market that is becoming more liberal.

C/ Agriculture under Mohamed VI

But typical of the new reign of Mohammed VI, we have ‘Morocco’s Green Plan”. What is it exactly?

Moroccan Green plan

“Moroccan GREEN Plan” objectives are the creating of one million agricultural enterprises and expects an additional agricultural GDP from 70 to 100 billion DH.

This new strategy was funded by the Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development.

The agriculture sector represents today, which is to say in 2010, from 15 to 20% of national GDP. Agriculture is a major source of employment with 3 to 4 million rural workers in the agricultural sector and 60 to 100,000 jobs in the food sector.

This area represents a crucial contribution to major macroeconomic balances and the trade balance. Today, the food balance is largely negative, excluding fisheries. On the ground, 70% of farmers Moroccan area constitute less than 2.1 hectares, while in Europe 80% of operators, each with more than 20 hectares.

Moreover, the issue of water is a major challenge for Moroccan agriculture of tomorrow. “Indeed, 80 to 90% of domestic consumption of water is linked to agriculture in addition to increasing competition between agricultural and residential uses and industrial especially in tourism.


The new plan focuses on two foundations

The first foundation aims to develop agriculture and to adapt to market rules, by encouraging private investment

The objective of the second foundation is to fight against poverty, increasing farm incomes from the poorest farmers.

The second basis of the strategy to reform the Moroccan agriculture is focused on two social projects:

Conversion Projects: The objective is to increase poor and little farmers to the cereal production to higher value added and less sensitive to volatility in the rain: olive, almond, carob tree, cactus, for example.

Projects Surge: The goal is to improve the animal production sector in the same way than plant, as cereals for exemple. And, by framing the operators to enable them to have the best techniques and increase production.

As part of this strategy, his Majesty Mohamed VI of Morocco, in the space of fifteen days of April 2010, conducted as a project in the field of agriculture, to show the importance that he gives this sector.

“His Majesty the King examines the modernization of irrigated agriculture in the area of Umm Rabii, costing 977 MDH

As part of the “Green Morocco Plan”, this project will allow for efficient development and management of water resources. It will thus contribute to improving the efficiency of water use from 50 to 90%, increasing the value added of 169 to 428 MDH and the creation of 650 additional permanent jobs.”

“His Majesty the King considered the proposed development of apple industry in the mountainous areas of Beni Mellal 50 MDH”

“His Majesty the King lays foundation stone for the construction of a center of red meat production in Beni Mellal Made on a total area of 13 hectares, this project, which comes in the wake of the plan “Green Morocco” and regional Tadla-Azilal agricultural plan, aims to create nearly 220 stable employment posts, and that it will achieve an annual production of 5480 tons of red meat.”

Drought and flood in morocco

In 1994 and 1995, a drought that caused a 45% share of Moroccan agriculture in gross domestic product, in danger to cause important damage in the long term.

The World Bank has responded by implementing a plan for emergency assistance to areas affected by drought for 100 million dollars, which was the promotion of livestock and agricultural production, the development of rural roads.

Thanks to current rains, which from time to time exceeded 100 mm in 24 hours, the average filling of dams has surpassed 50% on November 21, when it was only 42.6% last years.

Conclusion and recommendations

Morocco has always, that is to say, since independence until today, a granted special privileges to the agricultural sector. Its socio-economic development is closely linked to agriculture. That’s why there are so many programs.

The Moroccan government has intervened intensively in the agricultural sector until the late 70’s, especially in the areas of exports. Hassan II had created an “Office” to deal with it. It was the OCE (Chérifian Office of Export). Today, this office has disappeared.

The eighties will see the implementation of significant reforms through the programs of stabilization and structural adjustment. The role of the state is largely reduced in favor of greater liberalization of the economy affecting prices. It accelerated after the entry into force of the Uruguay Round Agreement (signed in Marrakesh in 1994), the official institutionalization of the WTO in January 1995, and the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union in 1996.

In this study, I particularly stressed the development of Moroccan agriculture through three main phases: the colonial period, the hassanian period and finally the decade of His Majesty Mohamed VI.

The first period was characterized by the expropriation of land and its exploitation by French colonists,

The latter period is marked by the recovery of these lands and the construction of large dams.

The third period, that we live in today, is marked by liberalization of the economy, the result of free trade agreements that the Kingdom has signed with several countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, USA and the European Union.

The plan “Green Morocco” has introduced a new dimension in Moroccan agriculture.

This work has allowed me to know an area that I did not know fully. I see now how this sector is important for the country in which I live.

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