The European Union and Morocco have signed a deal worth €115 million to support the North African country’s agricultural and forestry sectors.
Known as the Terra Verte (green earth) program, the funds will be used to invest in food production, agricultural development and biodiversity protection.
The support to Moroccan agriculture and forestry provided through this program shows that the E.U. is on Morocco’s side in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises.
At first, the initiative will be rolled out in four pilot regions, with plans to expand depending on its success.
The European Commission said the project’s primary goals are to develop a sustainable agricultural and forestry value chain in the country and equitably create jobs.See Also:Morrocan Olive Oil Exports Rise After Last Year’s Bumper Crop
“Morocco has just experienced the worst drought in 40 years, threatening water and agricultural systems,” said Olivér Várhelyi, the European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement. “In addition, the war in Ukraine is exacerbating tensions in the food markets, including in the E.U.‘s southern neighborhood region.”
The funds are expected to supplement two Moroccan development strategies: Generation Green and Moroccan Forests.
The government said Generation Green is meant to invest in rural communities and provide new opportunities, especially for young farmers, through mechanization and modernization of existing infrastructure.
Mohammed Sadiki, the country’s agricultural and forestry minister, told local media in a March 2022 interview that Generation Green promotes food security and food sovereignty while adding value to agricultural products.
One of the project’s goals is to expand agricultural cultivation areas, including olives. According to the International Olive Council, Morocco produced 200,000 tons of olive oil and 130,000 tons of table olives in the 2021/22 crop year.
Since records began in 1990, olive yields in the country have increased steadily. As of last year, Morocco was the world’s sixth-largest olive oil and table olive producer.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan Forests strategy will plant 600,000 trees, comprising more than eight different species, by 2030. The government added that the effort would also incentivize local populations to practice sustainable forestry.
Frans Timmermans, executive vice president for the European Green Deal, said the Terra Verte program recognized the importance of Morocco to the “green transition.”
“The support to Moroccan agriculture and forestry provided through this program shows that the E.U. is on Morocco’s side in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises,” he added.