The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, paid a visit to Morocco last month during which she praised the North African Kingdom for reducing extreme poverty from 16 to 6 percent since 2010 and “eliminating hunger.” She specifically highlighted the Plan Maroc Vert (PMV), or the Morocco Green Plan, the country’s agricultural development strategy, for “significantly boost[ing] the agricultural sector by promoting the integration...into international markets and assisting the sector in achieving growth.”
These commendations come on the back of the praise Morocco received last year for achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1—halving of the proportion of hungry people—before the 2015 target; an achievement that was likely fueled in part by the success of its Plan Maroc Vert.
Morocco’s PMV strategy, and its apparent success, serves as a robust reminder of the power of comprehensive and ambitious agricultural policymaking.
The Moroccan agricultural sector is dichotomous: there is the industrialized, commercial side, which tends to produce fruits and vegetables for export; and there is also the small-scale, semi-subsistence side in which farmers produce lower-value cereal crops, like wheat and barley, for domestic consumption. While the former brings in billions of dollars of annual revenue through trade, it is the latter that represents the majority of farmers in the country, most of whom operate on rain-fed plots of less than 5 hectares.
Agriculture is a vital component of the Moroccan economy. Around 40 percent of the country’s population is employed in the sector, a figure which doubles to 80 percent in rural areas. It accounts for about 15 percent of Morocco’s GDP and between 20 and 30 percent of the Kingdom’s exports in any given year (the vast majority of which are destined for Europe).
For many decades, Morocco’s agricultural strategy focused on promoting self-sufficiency in key crops, including cereals, and on the exportation of select crops.Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, that support meant significant market interventions and price support mechanisms for the country’s farmers; but by the 1980s, the Moroccan economy—including its agricultural sector—became increasingly liberalized and market-oriented. As a result, interventions were reduced in frequency and scope, although subsidies do remain in place for some agricultural inputs like certified seeds.
By the 2000s, however, the Moroccan government knew that its agricultural sector needed a more profound shakeup. Rural poverty remained rampant and agriculture was generally vulnerable. In 2007, McKinsey was brought in to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as to help develop a new strategy for the sector. In 2008, the Plan Maroc Vert was launched with an intended timeframe between 2008 and 2020.
In developing a new agricultural development strategy, the Moroccan government targeted several existing concerns. But primarily, the aim was to develop agriculture into a driver of economic growth in the country, and, in so doing, to alleviate the problems associated with low rural incomes and poverty. To achieve this, the strategy needed to address several obstacles that plagued the sector including low investment, low cereal yields, weather volatility, and climate change.
The PMV’s objectives are broad: according to the African Development Bank, its primary objectives are to “strengthen the sector’s competitiveness, while promoting inclusive economic growth.” The PMV is split into two pillars, each representing one of the two sides of Moroccan agriculture. Pillar 1 concerns industrialized, commercial agriculture, and aims to maximize production from these farms by promoting agribusiness investment. Pillar 2 tackles small-scale farming, and aims to support agriculture projects in marginal areas, support farmer incomes, and safeguard natural resources. Within these two pillars, the PMV lays out several ambitious goals, including to: i) introduce projects targeting 1.4 million farmers, ii) increase agricultural value-addition by 250 percent, iii) create 1.5 million jobs, iv) more than triple agricultural exports, v) implement 1,500 agricultural projects, and vi) support MDH 147 billion (USD 15 billion) in investments in the sector.
Since the introduction of the program in 2008, several organizational steps have been taken to facilitate its implementation: the Department of Agriculture has been reorganized, and 16 Regional Directorates of Agriculture have been established. Additionally, the country has established the Agency for Agricultural Development, responsible for promoting agricultural investment; the National Food Safety Authority, tasked with implementing and overseeing quality control; and the National Agency for the Development of Oasis and Arganier Areas, charged with promoting the development of oasis and arganier ecosystems. And to fund all these efforts, Morocco has acquired significant agricultural investments in the form of grants and loans from organizations including the World Bank (loans totaling $408 million), the African Development Bank (loans totaling at least $250 million), the EU, the French Development Agency, Hassan II Fund, USAID, and the FAO, among other international organizations.
While the PMV’s objectives are vast, three of its target areas in particular—the reduction of domestic hunger (while boosting rural incomes); the expansion of agricultural trade; and the strengthening of sector resiliency—provide a particularly valuable lens through which the program can be evaluated.
While many Moroccans—especially those in rural areas—depend on agriculture as their primary source of income, these earnings are stunted or made unpredictable by the fact that most farmers grow volatile, low-yield and low-value crops, particularly cereals. While cereals take up the majority of agricultural lands (75 percent), they constitute a relatively small share of sales (10-15 percent) and virtually no exports.
The dependence on low-value, weather-vulnerable crops plays a part in the persistence of rural poverty in Morocco, where about 4 million of the country’s 33 million inhabitants live below the poverty line. Although nutrition has been steadily improving in the country, between 2.5 and 5 percent of Morocco’s population is estimated to be undernourished.
So how does the PMV seek to address these issues? The strategy is to increase farmer incomes and available jobs by focusing on high-value crops and improving yields, while simultaneously improving food sovereignty in cereals, milk, and meat. The project also proposes a reduction in the area dedicated to cereal cultivation, but to simultaneously increase yields so that net cereal production would rise. Arable land no longer being used for cereal cultivation can then be converted into farms growing higher-value products, such as olives, fruits, vegetables, milk, or become pastureland for livestock (the PMV also highlights the importance of boosting domestic red meat production).
This land conversion plan has been a partial success: the barley and corn areas have indeed declined since 2008, although wheat acreage has actually increased during this period. While the yields of these cereals have continued to be somewhat volatile, in 2013 Morocco achieved its highest wheat yield in the over 50 years of available FAO data (2.16 t/ha), suggesting some progress. The country has also had some success in increasing acreage of some of its high-value target crops, such as olives, in particular, as well as avocados, figs and dates.
Food production, in both capital and per capita terms, has increased since 2008, thereby helping to make food more widely available.
This success has assisted Morocco in achieving its hunger-reduction efforts, and even claim success in implementing MDG 1 before the 2015 deadline.
As noted above, trade is a vital component of the Moroccan agricultural sector. The EU is Morocco’s largest trading partner, and agricultural exports constitute a significant portion of that tradethanks to Morocco’s comparative advantage in the production of several fruits and vegetables. The PMV set a target to more than triple the quantity of Morocco’s agricultural exports by 2020. In 2014, over $3.2 billion in agricultural products were exported from Morocco to the EU, representing a significant increase from 2008 (although still a long way from the goal of tripling these exports).
To reach this ambitious goal, Morocco has prioritized eliminating barriers to trade, signing a free trade agreement with the EU in 2012 which facilitates Morocco’s ability to export its agricultural products, and Europe’s ability to export its processed goods to the Kingdom. This agreement gives duty-free access to 70 percent of European imports, and lifts duties on 55 percent of Morocco exports.
At the same time, Morocco is increasing its trade competitiveness by implementing a food safety framework consistent with international standards and has established the National Food Safety Authority to implement these standards. Meanwhile, the PMV has tackled efficiency in traded products by seeking to increase production and yields of Morocco’s “stronghold products,” to “gain market share in all European markets” and to develop new markets, including in the US.
Amid these efforts, agricultural trade between the EU and Morocco has been on an upward trend, with both import and export values for 2014 reaching their highest levels in at least the last decade.
In addition to addressing historical and contemporary agricultural challenges, the PMV is also directly addressing the country’s future. And in so doing, the PMV has to grapple with the potential constraints posed by a changing climate. Morocco already suffers from water scarcity and precipitation variability, and according to the FAO, is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with climate models predicting rising average temperatures, decreasing rainfall, and greater variability in both climate and water resources in the future.
According to a World Bank report, Morocco would be among the four countries most negatively affected by climate change in terms of agricultural yields. The authors of that study estimated the effects of 5 general circulation climate models under 3 different emissions scenarios. Their average for these scenarios, which did not include the potential impact of CO2 fertilization (the process through which an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide encourages plant growth), indicated that Morocco’s 2050 yields for 11 major crops, compared with 2000 figures, could see declines of 25 percent. While such a prediction is alarming, the exact impact of climate change on agriculture is still a matter of debate, and it is possible that other effects, including CO2 fertilization, may offset some of these adverse effects: the same study, when it accounted for the effects of CO2 fertilization, found the impacts of climate change on agriculture to be less negative, or even positive in some regions.
Morocco’s biggest environmental concern for its future, and in many cases in its present, is water availability. Agriculture is currently responsible for around 90 percent of its water withdrawals, and the country has just 866 cubic meters of annual renewable water resources, making it a “water scarce” country according to loosely defined UN guidelines. The country is also a frequent victim of volatile weather, suffering from drought at least four times in the last 15 years, in some instances so severe that cereal production was halved and hundreds of thousands of people were affected. Unfortunately for Morocco, studies have suggested that droughts in Morocco are occurring with more frequency, and may continue to become increasingly common thanks to climate change.
As of 2011, only 16 percent of Morocco’s agricultural area was irrigated, or around 1.5 million hectares. Less than one fifth of this was localized (such as drip) irrigation. This represents a major opportunity for the country, as efficient irrigation systems could help not only bolster yields but also help conserve scarce resources.
Picking up on these concerns, the PMV seeks to protect Moroccan agriculture from current and future volatility, and has set a target of conserving 1.4 billion cubic meters of water annually. One way the project is pursuing this is by investing in increasing irrigation coverage: the National Irrigation Water Saving Program aims to transform 500,000 hectares of land from spray or surface irrigation to more efficient, localized irrigation over a 10-year period. This represents a more than tripling in the area with localized irrigation.
In addition, the program is introducing conservation agriculture practices, such as direct seeding and no-tillage, both of which can be effective in areas with low rainfall. The PMV is also seeking to introduce improved crop varieties that are well-suited to the climate conditions and to increase the use of certified seeds. Finally, the PMV is aiming to reduce the demand for water by reducing the area of water-intensive crops, such as cereals, in favor of less water-intensive crops.
The PMV has already recorded some major successes in these areas. As of early 2015, the country had made significant progress towards its irrigation goals by enlisting more than twice its target number of farmers to convert to localized irrigation. In total, around 200,000 hectares of irrigation systems were converted to localized irrigation between 2008 and 2013, more than doubling the amount of land using such systems. In addition, the country has introduced direct seeding techniques on at least 500 hectares of cereal-growing land. Not only has the PMV assisted in making a more resilient agricultural sector, but evidence suggests that it is helping create a more environmentally friendly agricultural sector, too: a preliminary analysis by the FAO concluded that the implementation of the PMV, over a 20 year timeframe, was expected to be an improvement in terms of the release of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases, compared to making no change.
The Plan Maroc Vert is an ambitious and wide-reaching strategy designed to jumpstart Morocco’s ailing agriculture sector and better prepare it for future uncertainties.
The program sets out tremendous goals that impact every corner of the country’s agricultural sector, and the efforts to improve rural livelihoods, boost trade, and alleviate the constraints of finite natural resources in the face of climate change are particularly vital. The country has made significant strides in each of these areas, demonstrating the power of a strong agricultural vision. And while these final five years of the PMV will be the ultimate test for the policy, its success thus far gives plenty of reasons for countries facing similar challenges to formulate their very own versions of a comprehensive “Plan Vert.”
What Information Do We Collect?
The information we gather enables us to personalize, improve and continue to operate the Services. We collect the following types of information from our users.
IP Address Information and Other Information Collected Automatically:
· We automatically receive and record information from your web browser when you interact with the Services, including your IP address and cookie information. This information is used for fighting spam/malware and also to facilitate collection of data concerning your interaction with the Services (e.g., what links you have clicked on).
· Generally, the Services automatically collect usage information, such as the number and frequency of visitors to the Site. We may use this data in aggregate form, that is, as a statistical measure, but not in a manner that would identify you personally. This type of aggregate data enables us and third parties authorized by us to figure out how often individuals use parts of the Services so that we can analyze and improve them.
Information Collected Using Cookies:
· Most browsers have an option for turning off the cookie feature, which will prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, as well as (depending on the sophistication of your browser software) allowing you to decide on acceptance of each new cookie in a variety of ways.
We collect statistical information about how users collectively use the Services (“Aggregate Information”). Some of this information may be derived from Personal Information. This statistical information is not Personal Information and cannot be tied back to you or your web browser.
How, and With Whom, Is My Information Shared?
IP Address Information:
Information You Elect to Share:
We share Aggregate Information with our partners, service providers and other persons with whom we conduct business. We share this type of statistical data so that our partners can understand how and how often people use our Services and their services or websites, which facilitates improving both their services and how our Services interface with them. In addition, these third parties may share with us non-private, aggregated or otherwise non Personal Information about you that they have independently developed or acquired.
Information Shared with Our Agents:
We employ and contract with people and other entities that perform certain tasks on our behalf and who are under our control (our “Agents”). We may need to share Personal Information with our Agents in order to provide products or services to you. Unless we tell you differently, our Agents do not have any right to use Personal Information or other information we share with them beyond what is necessary to assist us. You hereby consent to our sharing of Personal Information with our Agents.
Information Disclosed Pursuant to Business Transfers:
In some cases, we may choose to buy or sell assets. In these types of transactions, user information is typically one of the transferred business assets. Moreover, if we, or substantially all of our assets, were acquired, or if we go out of business or enter bankruptcy, user information would be one of the assets that is transferred or acquired by a third party. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur, and that any acquirer of us or our assets may continue to use your Personal Information as set forth in this policy.
Information Disclosed for Our Protection and the Protection of Others:
Information We Share With Your Consent:
Except as set forth above, you will be notified when your Personal Information may be shared with third parties, and will be able to prevent the sharing of this information.
Is Information About Me Secure?
We store all of our information, including your IP address information, using industry-standard techniques. We do not guarantee or warrant that such techniques will prevent unauthorized access to information about you that we store, Personal Information or otherwise.
What Information of Mine Can I Access?
You can access and delete cookies through your web browser settings.
California Privacy Rights: Under California Civil Code sections 1798.83-1798.84, California residents are entitled to ask us for a notice identifying the categories of personal customer information which we share with our affiliates and/or third parties for marketing purposes, and providing contact information for such affiliates and/or third parties. If you are a California resident and would like a copy of this notice, please submit a written request to the following address: 1156 6th Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036
What If I Have Questions or Concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding privacy using the Services, please send us a detailed message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make every effort to resolve your concerns.
Effective Date: March 11, 2014
b. You shall not (directly or indirectly):i. take any action that imposes or may impose (as determined by us in our sole discretion) an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our (or our third party providers’) infrastructure;ii. interfere or attempt to interfere with the proper working of the Services or any activities conducted on the Services;iii. bypass, circumvent or attempt to bypass or circumvent any measures we may use to prevent or restrict access to the Services (or other accounts, computer systems or networks connected to the Services);iv. use manual or automated software, devices, or other processes to “crawl” or “spider” any page of the Site;
v. harvest or scrape any Content from the Services;
vi. otherwise take any action in violation of our guidelines and policies;vii. decipher, decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer or otherwise attempt to derive any source code or underlying ideas or algorithms of any part of the Services (including without limitation any application), except to the limited extent applicable laws specifically prohibit such restriction;viii. modify, translate, or otherwise create derivative works of any part of the Services; orix. copy, rent, lease, distribute, or otherwise transfer any of the rights that you receive hereunder.c. We also reserve the right to access, read, preserve, and disclose any information as we reasonably believe is necessary to:i. satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request;ii. enforce these Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations hereof;
iii. detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues;
iv. respond to user support requests; or
v. protect the rights, property or safety of us, our users and the public.4. Third Party Services. The Services may permit you to link to other websites, services or resources on the Internet, and other websites, services or resources may contain links to the Services. When you access third party resources on the Internet, you do so at your own risk. These other resources are not under our control, and you acknowledge that we are not responsible or liable for the content, functions, accuracy, legality, appropriateness or any other aspect of such websites or resources. The inclusion of any such link does not imply our endorsement or any association between us and their operators. You further acknowledge and agree that we shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any such content, goods or services available on or through any such website or resource.5. Termination. We may terminate your access to all or any part of the Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. All provisions of these Terms of Service which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.6. Warranty Disclaimer.a. You release us from all liability for you having acquired or not acquired Content through the Services. We make no representations concerning any Content contained in or accessed through the Services, and we will not be responsible or liable for the accuracy, copyright compliance, or legality of material or Content contained in or accessed through the Services.b. THE SERVICES AND CONTENT ARE PROVIDED “AS IS”, “AS AVAILABLE” AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND ANY WARRANTIES IMPLIED BY ANY COURSE OF PERFORMANCE OR USAGE OF TRADE, ALL OF WHICH ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. WE, AND OUR DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, SUPPLIERS, PARTNERS AND CONTENT PROVIDERS DO NOT WARRANT THAT: (I) THE SERVICES WILL BE SECURE OR AVAILABLE AT ANY PARTICULAR TIME OR LOCATION; (II) ANY DEFECTS OR ERRORS WILL BE CORRECTED; (III) ANY CONTENT AVAILABLE AT OR THROUGH THE SERVICES IS FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS; OR (IV) THE RESULTS OF USING THE SERVICES WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS.7. Limitation of Liability. IN NO EVENT SHALL WE, NOR OUR DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, PARTNERS, SUPPLIERS OR CONTENT PROVIDERS, BE LIABLE UNDER CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, NEGLIGENCE OR ANY OTHER LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICES FOR ANY (I) LOST PROFITS, DATA LOSS, COST OF PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES, OR SPECIAL, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, COMPENSATORY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES (HOWEVER ARISING), (II) BUGS, VIRUSES, TROJAN HORSES, OR THE LIKE (REGARDLESS OF THE SOURCE OF ORIGINATION), OR (III) DIRECT DAMAGES IN EXCESS OF $50.00.8. Governing Law and Jurisdiction. These Terms of Service shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, including its conflicts of law rules, and the United States of America. You agree that any dispute arising from or relating to the subject matter of these Terms of Service shall be governed by the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the state and Federal courts of New York County, New York.9. Miscellaneous.a. Modification. We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to modify or replace any of these Terms of Service, or change, suspend, or discontinue the Services at any time. Your continued use of the Services following notification of any changes to these Terms of Service constitutes acceptance of those changes.b. Entire Agreement and Severability. These Terms of Service are the entire agreement between you and us with respect to the Services, including use of the Site, and supersede all prior or contemporaneous communications and proposals (whether oral, written or electronic) between you and us with respect to the Services. If any provision of these Terms of Service is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision will be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that these Terms of Service will otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable. The failure of either party to exercise in any respect any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunderc. Force Majeure. We shall not be liable for any failure to perform our obligations hereunder where such failure results from any cause beyond our reasonable control, including, without limitation, mechanical, electronic or communications failure or degradation.d. Assignment. These Terms of Service are personal to you, and are not assignable, transferable or sublicensable by you except with our prior written consent. We may assign, transfer or delegate any of our rights and obligations hereunder without consent.e. Agency. No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment relationship is created as a result of these Terms of Service and neither party has any authority of any kind to bind the other in any respect.f. Notices. Unless otherwise specified in these Term of Service, all notices under these Terms of Service will be in writing and will be deemed to have been duly given when received, if personally delivered or sent by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested; when receipt is electronically confirmed, if transmitted by facsimile or e-mail; or the day after it is sent, if sent for next day delivery by recognized overnight delivery service. Electronic notices should be sent to email@example.com. No Waiver. Our failure to enforce any part of these Terms of Service shall not constitute a waiver of our right to later enforce that or any other part of these Terms of Service. Waiver of compliance in any particular instance does not mean that we will waive compliance in the future. In order for any waiver of compliance with these Terms of Service to be binding, we must provide you with written notice of such waiver through one of our authorized representatives.h. Headings. The section and paragraph headings in these Terms of Service are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation.Contact. You may contact us at the following address: 1156 6th Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036.