`Heat and Drought Hamper Olive Harvest in Morocco - Olive Oil Times

Heat and Drought Hamper Olive Harvest in Morocco

Oct. 27, 2021
Ephantus Mukundi

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Olive oil and table olive pro­duc­ers in Morocco are prepar­ing for low yields as the 2021/22 crop year gets under­way.

Persistent heat­waves in the country’s two largest pro­duc­ing areas – Marrakesh-Safi and Fes-Meknes – have largely been blamed for the pre­dicted pro­duc­tion dip. Producers in Marrakesh-Safi spe­cial­ize in table olive pro­duc­tion, while those in Meknes pro­duce most of the olive oil.

If it rains within a week, pro­duc­tion could improve sig­nif­i­cantly with at least a 30 per­cent increase,” Rachid Benali, pres­i­dent of the Moroccan olive pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, told local media. In the absence of rain, we can expect losses of the same level.”

See Also: 2021 Harvest Updates

Initially, the Moroccan olive sec­tor pre­dicted a 14-per­cent increase in pro­duc­tion trans­lat­ing to about 2.2 mil­lion tons of fruit har­vested for both oil pro­duc­tion and table olive pro­duc­tion.

However, the hot and dry sum­mer has led to dire declines in dam reserves. In turn, this caused water sup­plies for irri­ga­tion to be cut dur­ing the crit­i­cal phase of the fruit devel­op­ment. According to data from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, 83 per­cent of Moroccan olive groves are irri­gated.

Morocco is a major pro­ducer of table olives and olive oil in the world. Olive groves occupy more than one mil­lion hectares in the coun­try and are grown in five sep­a­rate regions, all of which are located in the north of the coun­try.

According to International Olive Council data, Morocco pro­duced 160,000 tons of olive oil and 130,000 tons of table olives in the 2020/21 crop year.

Overall, the olive sec­tors account for roughly five per­cent of the country’s agri­cul­tural GDP and achieve an annual turnover of around 6.6 bil­lion Moroccan Dirham (€630 mil­lion).

In an effort to boost its olive oil sec­tor, the coun­try launched an effort to plant more trees and increase olive pro­duc­tion to 2.5 mil­lion tons by 2020. According to the min­istry of agri­cul­ture, Morocco has achieved 94 per­cent of this objec­tive.

However, cli­mate change may impair the North African country’s abil­ity to fully real­ize this goal.

Morocco has been expe­ri­enc­ing high tem­per­a­tures caused by warm, dry air blow­ing north from the Sahara Desert. These unchar­ac­ter­is­tic gusts have led to tem­per­a­tures up to 15 ºC above aver­age.

July and August had the high­est tem­per­a­tures ever recorded in the coun­try with ther­mostats hit­ting 50 ºC.

According to a recent report from Oxford Business Group (OBG) on cli­mate change in Africa, deser­ti­fi­ca­tion is pos­ing a major chal­lenge to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor in Morocco.

The report also showed that sta­tis­tics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which indi­cate Africa is the sec­ond-dri­est con­ti­nent in the world (Antarctica is the dri­est) with about 40 per­cent of the con­ti­nent plagued by drought.

Drought is an ever-present threat with only six per­cent of Africa’s agri­cul­tural land under sus­tain­able irri­ga­tion.

While the Moroccan gov­ern­ment has made attempts to put in place sus­tain­able irri­ga­tion ini­tia­tives, the country’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor is still striv­ing to achieve these goals.





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