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Morocco Launches New National Programs for Agriculture, Forests

Source : | 14 February 2020 |  News | 188 views

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Rabat – King Mohammed VI has launched a new development strategy for theagricultural sector, called “Green Generation 2020-2030,” and a national strategy forwater and forests, dubbed “Forests of Morocco.”The launch ceremony took place on Thursday, February 13, in the province of Chtouka Ait Baha, nearAgadir, central Morocco.Crown Prince Moulay Hassanaccompanied his father during the ceremony.Green Generation 2020-2030The first strategy aims to consolidate the achievements made in the agricultural sector and create new income-generating activities, mainly in favor of young people in rural areas.It also seeks to encourage the emergence of an agricultural middle class and to make the sector a lever of socio-economic development, said the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Waters, and Forests, Aziz Akhannouch.The Moroccan agricultural sector aims to reach a new development level based on two main foundations, revealed the minister.The first pillar is the enhancement of the human element and the promotion of a new generation of the agricultural middle class, between 350,000 and 400,000 households, and young entrepreneurs, through the mobilization of one million hectares of collective lands and the creation of 350,000 jobs, he said.The new middle class and young farmers will benefit from a new generation of innovative agricultural organizations and new support measures, added Akhannouch.The second foundation of the strategy is the promotion of human and social development.To reach the objective, the plan aims to increase agricultural exports from MAD 50 billion (€4.47 billion) to 60 billion (€5.69 billion) and the agricultures Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from MAD 200 billion (€18.96 billion) to 250 billion (€23.7 billion) by 2030.The distribution process of agricultural products will improve through the modernization of 12 wholesale and traditional markets, explained Akhannouch.The implementation of the strategy will require an annual increase of the agriculture ministry’s budget by nearly 2.5% as of 2020, added the minister.Forests of MoroccoOn the “Forests of Morocco” strategy, Akhannouch emphasized the environmental, economic, and social roles of forests, which cover around 9 million hectares in Morocco.Moroccan forests are currently in a poor state, due to the deterioration of 17,000 hectares of forest land annually, the overharvesting of firewood, and overexploitation of grazing areas, commented Akhannouch.The new strategy aims to make forests a space for development, to ensure the sustainable management of their resources, to strengthen their productive capacities, and to preserve biodiversity, said the minister.The plan seeks to repopulate 133,000 hectares of forests by 2030, create 27,500 direct jobs, and increase the annual income of ecotourism to MAD 5 billion (around €474 million).“Forests of Morocco” revolves around four main axes: the creation of a new model based on a participatory approach, the development of forest areas according to their wealth, the promotion and modernization of forest professions, and the introduction of digital tools in the management of the sector.The strategy will create a Water and Forest Agency and a Nature Conservation Agency, added Akhannouch.Ten national parks will also benefit from the program, in order to ensure their economic development with full respect for the natural, cultural, and territorial heritage.The two strategies will take into consideration territorial specificities and the assets of each region, according to the principles of good governance in terms of monitoring and evaluating investors as well as efficiency and output indicators, underlined the minister.Green Morocco Plan resultsThe new plans represent a continuity of theGreen Morocco Plan (PMV), launched in 2008.The PMV allowed for the signing of 19 program contracts, the implementation of 12 regional agricultural plans, the creation of four new agencies, the development of 4,500 legal texts, and the mobilization of MAD 34 billion (around €3.22 billion) of international funding.At the macroeconomic level, the PMV multiplied the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and agricultural exports. It also increased the volume of investments in the agricultural sector and created job openings.In terms of sustainability, the plan consolidated the resilience of agriculture and its rain-dependency through water-saving plans benefiting 2.7 million farmers.Argan plantationsBesides the two national strategies, King Mohammed VI launched a project to plant 100 hectares ofargan treesin the commune of Imi Mgrouren for a budget of MAD 1.8 million (€170,700).The project is part of a program aiming to cover an area of 1,250 hectares in the province of Chtouka Ait Baha with argan trees.The program, costing around MAD 28 million (about €2.65 million), will benefit 729 people from seven communes of the region.The program itself is part of a larger development plan to cover an area of 10,000 hectares with argan trees, in the regions of Souss-Massa, Marrakech-Safi, and Guelmim-Oued Noun.The global program, launched in 2017 and due to complete by 2022, mobilizes a budget of MAD 490 million (around €46.46 million).The Green Climate Fund is contributing to the project with MAD 390 million (nearly €37 million), while the Moroccan government will cover the remaining balance.The development program benefits the provinces of Essaouira (2,885 hectares), Taroudant (1,337 ha), Sidi Ifni (627 ha), Chtouka Ait Baha (1,250 ha), Guelmim (623 ha), Tiznit (3,188 ha), and Agadir Ida Outtanane (90 ha).Seawater desalinationOn the same day, the King launched the construction works of the irrigation network atAgadir’s seawater desalination station. The construction of the station is currently 65% complete.The facility is part of the 2020-2027 national water program, launched in January. The program aims to consolidate and diversify the sources of drinking water supply, guarantee water security, and combat the effects of climate change.Covering an area of 20 hectares, the station aims to meet the drinking water needs of the Agadir region and the irrigation water needs of the Chtouka plain.Costing a total of MAD 4.41 billion (around €418 million), the station is the first of its kind in Africa, operating some of the best water desalination processes, notably reverse osmosis technology.The desalination station will be accompanied by two supply lines, a discharge outlet, a storage tank, five pumping stations, and a distribution network.The unit is expected to be operational by March 2021. It will initially produce 275,000 cubic meters of water per day, before increasing its total capacity to 400,000 cubic meters daily, shared equally between irrigation and drinking water.

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