Farmers in Morocco Prepare for Modest Yield

After last year’s record-high production, the North African country’s two largest olive-growing regions are expecting small harvests.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Sep. 7, 2022 16:42 UTC

Olive grow­ers in Morocco antic­i­pate very low yields as the har­vest approaches. Citing the severe effects of the pro­longed drought, indus­try orga­ni­za­tions and local experts said that last sea­son’s record har­vest will not be repeated this year.

Given the very low lev­els of ground­wa­ter and reser­voirs and the scarce rain­fall reported dur­ing the year, we expect over­all olive pro­duc­tion to be quite low,” Rachid Benali, pres­i­dent of Morocco’s inter­pro­fes­sional olive oil asso­ci­a­tion (Interprolive), told local media.

All the olive-grow­ing regions of Morocco will suf­fer a very sig­nif­i­cant drop in pro­duc­tion.- Rachid Benali, pres­i­dent, Interprolive

In the last two years, the olive trees have suf­fered [from drought] and were not in the con­di­tion to regain access to suf­fi­cient water and nutri­tional resources,” he added. Like with many other crops, the olive tree needs water for the whole dura­tion of its fruit­ing sea­son, which means from February to October or November.”

Rainfall scarcity through­out win­ter and spring did not replen­ish water reserves, while repeated heat­waves and wild­fires have tested local farm­ing oper­a­tions. The blazes dis­placed more than 3,000 fam­i­lies and destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of for­est.

See Also:2022 Harvest Updates

According to an edi­to­r­ial from Hespress Français, the effects of the drought are espe­cially harsh in two of the most rel­e­vant olive-pro­duc­ing regions: Marrakech-Safi et Fès-Meknès.

In the country’s north-cen­tral and north­east­ern regions, an extra­or­di­nar­ily hot and dry sum­mer resulted in a lack of water for irri­ga­tion sys­tems. The two regions account for almost 50 per­cent of the national olive pro­duc­tion.

Apart from the east­ern region, all the olive-grow­ing regions of Morocco will suf­fer a very sig­nif­i­cant drop in pro­duc­tion,” Benali told a sep­a­rate local media out­let.

Moroccan author­i­ties said the cur­rent drought is the worst of the last three decades.

Most regions and city coun­cils adopted water rationing mea­sures. As a result, drink­ing water flows were reduced, while water-inten­sive house­hold activ­i­ties, such as gar­den­ing or irri­ga­tion, were sus­pended.

The coun­try’s water reserves are now esti­mated at 28 per­cent of their capac­ity, com­pared with the 46 per­cent reported last year.

According to a recent World Bank report cited by The North Africa Post, the effects of cli­mate change, includ­ing droughts and floods, have cost the coun­try more than €580 mil­lion annu­ally.

In the last decade, Moroccan olive pro­duc­tion has been grow­ing along with the nation­wide efforts to pro­mote a mod­ern approach to olive farm­ing.

According to the International Olive Council, Morocco pro­duced 145,000 tons of olive oil in the 2019/20 crop year, 160,000 tons in 2020/21 and 200,000 tons in 2021/22. These pro­duc­tion fig­ures place the coun­try among the world’s most rel­e­vant non-European olive oil pro­duc­ers.

Overall, the olive sec­tor rep­re­sents around 5 per­cent of all Moroccan agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

According to Benali, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion requires cit­i­zens and farm­ers to ration their water use.

Our efforts must be directed towards the ratio­nal use of our water resources by trans­fer­ring water from the Al Wahda dam to other regions, lim­it­ing water-inten­sive crops, pro­hibit­ing irri­ga­tion, build­ing sev­eral small dams and refor­est­ing forests,” he said.


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