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Morocco Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Morocco is dependent on agriculture, which makes the economy sensitive to weather fluctuations. Fishing is also important, but in recent years there has been conflict over fishing rights off the coast of Western Sahara.
Cultivation, livestock management and fishing employ about 40 percent of the country's labor force - and more than half of the working women. Nearly half of the land is collectively owned by clan groups who distribute it according to need. Most farms are small units of less than ten hectares managed by old-fashioned methods. Export-oriented large-scale farms are modern and usually use irrigation.
Important crops are cereals (mainly wheat and barley) as well as fruits, vegetables and spices. Morocco is a major exporter of citrus fruits and vegetables. Much sugar cane and sugar beet is grown to reduce the large sugar import.
Only a third of the arable land receives enough rainfall. The fluctuations of the weather are therefore crucial for the Moroccan economy. Drought in agriculture not only harms the economy in general, but also often leads to waves of uncontrolled move into cities, with long-term slum and poverty problems. The government has long tried with foreign aid to reduce the dependence on the weather by expanding ponds and irrigation.
The stock of livestock is substantial, with mainly cattle and sheep. Meat and milk production has increased for a long time, but the availability of grazing is a problem even when the rainfall is normal. Dairy products must be imported.
The fishing industry is economically important. Sardines make up most of the catch, and mackerel, octopus and seafood are other important species - but fishing creates both ecological problems and political controversy. In 1999, Morocco refused to renew its fisheries agreement with the EU, citing that Spanish trawlers were seriously injuring their fish stocks. As the European fishing fleets disappeared, local catches increased significantly. Subsequently, some species have declined again.
A new fisheries agreement with the EU came into force in 2007, but it did not include the Mediterranean and set a limit for the total catch. The agreement was controversial because it included the Occupied Western Sahara, whose fishing waters are very rich but legally do not belong to Morocco (see Calendar and Western Sahara: History and Current Policy). Sweden's position has been that agreements cannot include goods from Western Sahara. Judgments have also been made in the European Court of Justice based on this conclusion and the European Parliament has been unwilling to accept agreements with Morocco with reference to the Western Sahara issue. Despite this, a new agreement was approved in 2019 (see Calendar). The fisheries agreement that expired in 2018 gave Morocco a total of about € 160 million over four years to allow vessels from EU countries to raise catches.
Both a new fisheries agreement and a new agricultural trade agreement, negotiated in 2018, were approved by the European Parliament in early 2019. The agreements must also be ratified by EU member states in order to become valid. The question of whether to include products from Western Sahara remains controversial.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
12.0 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
68.5 percent (2016)
Subsidies are scrapped
All subsidies on oil products and gas will be gone by the end of the year, according to Prime Minister Benkirane, who notes that it will be tough and painful. The reason is that the state needs to reduce its costs. According to Benkirane, the government is considering measures to alleviate the effects of the price increase for the poor. Critics fear, though, that both low- and middle-income earners will be hit hard.
Alleged leak is investigated
Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar says in a hearing in Parliament that what is alleged to be leaked telegrams from the security service - and which revealed how the power elite bribes foreign journalists and diplomats to get support for the Western Sahara issue - is in fact a campaign that Algeria is behind. The telegrams have been published on Twitter for a couple of months, without revealing who was behind the leak.
Heavy rainfall causes sudden flooding in the south. Over 30 people are killed and several are missing, in many cases since cars were washed away.
Soccer tournament is relocated from Morocco
CAF rejects Morocco's request and instead decides to move the African football championship to Equatorial Guinea (see October 2014)
The annexation of Western Sahara is celebrated
King Mohammed participates when tens of thousands of Moroccans celebrate the 40th anniversary of "the green march" in El Aaiún (see Modern History).
Protests against cuts
The country's three largest unions jointly call for a 24-hour general strike against plans for reduced pensions and reduced subsidies.
Ebola threatens football tournament
Morocco asks the African Football Federation (CAF) to postpone the African Championships to be held in January and February, due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. However, CAF refuses the request.
Several jihadist recruits arrested
Both Moroccan and Spanish authorities are reported to have arrested suspected jihadist recruiters, in Ceuta and Melilla as well as in Melilla's Moroccan neighbor Nador.
Jihadist recruits are arrested
The security service is said to have apprehended a French jihadist who should have been in the process of recruiting fighters to al-Qaeda- affiliated groups in Libya and Syria.
Journalist is sentenced to prison
The blogger and journalist Mustafa al-Hasnawi, who has been detained for over a year, is sentenced to four years in prison for terrorist offenses. According to human rights groups, he has criticized the government and defended rights. The penalty is later reduced to three years.
Government critics get imprisoned
Rapper Mouad Belghouat - known as El Haqed - is sentenced to four years in prison, for selling tickets to a football match on the black market, appearing drunk and relying on a cop. This is the third time the well-known government critic has been sentenced.
Islamists protest against prison sentences
Hundreds of Salafists demonstrate outside Parliament demanding the release of Islamists imprisoned after the terrorist attack in Casablanca in 2003 (see Modern History). According to the protesters, many of the convicted are innocent and accuse the regime of arbitrarily imprisoning thousands of Islamists with the support of the Anti-Terrorism Act shortly after the attack.
Rape law is sharpened
Unanimously adopts a legislative amendment that eliminates the possibility of impunity in the case of rape of minors; Earlier, a man could avoid punishment by marrying an underage girl he raped. The law change had been proposed following widespread protests against a case where a 16-year-old committed suicide in 2012 after being forced to marry a man who raped her. The man escaped punishment.