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An unprecedented cold spell that struck Morocco in February and continues to linger well into March has raised serious questions about the country’s national agricultural development programme, which will fail to achieve its desired results if climate change continues to be mismanaged.

The ‘Green Morocco Plan’ was launched last year with the aim of remedying major obstacles that still hinder development of the agricultural sector, tackling everything from ensuring food security for 32 million Moroccans, to meeting the requirements of European markets, the biggest consumers of Moroccan produce.

However, the Plan does not do a thorough job of diagnosing climate factors, citing only drought, which it considers ‘periodical’, as an impediment to successful farming. The report does not address the sudden and unexpected arrival of cold weather, whose damages have been no less than disastrous.

Last February, more than 8,200 of the country’s 8,700 hectares of potatoes, were ravaged. A further 14,000 of about 21,000 hectares reserved for sugarcane were also blighted by the cold. This is particularly significant since potatoes and sugar are two of Morocco’s primary export commodities.

“We have never seen such a degree of cold. All that we worked for was completely destroyed,” Ahmed El Aiboudi, a farmer from the Ouled Frej region, 120 kilometres south of Casablanca, said.

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