Moroccan Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch and Tariq Sijilmassi, Chairman of banking Group Crédit Agricole, chaired on Tuesday, in Rabat, the signing ceremony of an agreement with the farmers’ cooperatives and their Union (UNCAM) and the National Federation of millers.
Under the agreement, Crédit Agricole bank will provide agricultural cooperatives soft loans to enable them to purchase and store the harvested wheat this season before selling the crops to the milling plants.
The majority of cereal-planted areas are small properties owned by subsistence farmers.
Morocco’s agricultural cooperatives play important role in crops collection and market place stabilization. Cereal harvest of the North African country is expected to reach 9.82 million tons in 2018, matching last year’s harvest despite late rainfall.
More than 4.5 million hectares were sowed with soft wheat, hard wheat and barley in 2018. This year’s agricultural season takes place in good conditions after abundant rainfall, up 16 percent on an average year.
Last year, Morocco imported 4.2 million tons of soft wheat, 2.1 million tons of maize, 850,000 tons of durum wheat and 440,000 tons of barley.
In 2015, Moroccan authorities raised customs duty on soft wheat imports to 75 pc from 17.5 pc to protect the local harvest. Wheat is one of the most important commodities in Moroc¬cans’ daily life.
Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of Morocco’s economy and employs nearly 40 percent of the workforce. The government expects an economic growth of 3.2 percent this year.
In 2008, the ministry of Agriculture launched the Plan Maroc Vert (Green Morocco Plan) aimed at maximizing agricultural output from modern large-scale farms through the pro¬motion of agribusiness and invest¬ment.
This plan seeks to give a sustained momentum to socioeconomic development, reduce poverty and support small-scale farmers in marginal areas.