Morocco's organic agriculture segment expanding in response to increased domestic and international demand

 

Morocco is working to raise the profile of its organic farming segment both at home and abroad by taking advantage of the rising demand for fresh and value-added organic products.

In December 2018 a conference was held in Rabat by the Organic Entrepreneurs Association (Club des Entreprenurs Bio, CEB io), a branch of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises. The conference, which discussed the organisation and regulation of the segment, marked the launch of a wider national campaign to increase awareness of organic agriculture. The CEO of CEB io, Slim Kabbaj, emphasised the importance of encouraging new companies to enter the market, establishing investment funds and educating consumers on the benefits of purchasing organic produce.

As part of this campaign, it was announced at the conference that CEB io would hold the first-ever organic products expo in Casablanca in June 2019. The fair will cover a range of organic produce, including food and food supplements, cosmetics, aromatic and floral derivatives, ecological products, and textiles.

Domestic Market

Although there is a large amount of demand for organic products overseas, with a strong and well established export market in Europe, organic products are also starting to gain traction among domestic consumers. To meet this growing demand, the country’s first organic food and produce franchise launched in September 2018.

Green Village opened three outlets in Casablanca and Rabat, with a fourth opened in Marrakech in mid-January 2019. Although only 35% of the 4000 products stocked are domestically sourced, Green Village aims to increase this to 50% by 2023. The company is currently working with more than 45 local organic producers to source tea, coffee, spices, flour, food supplements and cosmetics, with more products and suppliers expected to be added in the future. The expanding domestic demand will help support the growth of the organic products market and encourage further investment in the segment, according to Anouar Alasri, director-general of global organic fertiliser firm Elephant Vert. “There is a growing interest among consumers for organic products in Morocco, following the positive trend in Europe,” Alasri told OBG. “In addition, retailers are now choosing to use local producers rather than relying solely on imports.”

Challenges & Opportunities

The growing interest in local organic producers could help overcome one of the major challenges faced by the segment – increasing output and utilising new technologies to maintain economic viability.

While returns on organic products can be considerably higher than conventionally grown products, production costs and potential losses incurred by not using chemical pest control can reduce profits. Companies such as Elephant Vert, which produces bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticide at two facilities in Morocco, are working to reduce production costs to make organic agriculture more sustainable and closer in price to mainstream farming.

Green Morroco

Raising the profile of organic farming is also an important objective of the Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV), the government’s 12-year agricultural development strategy, which was launched in 2008.

The strategy aims to diversify the sector to reduce its dependence on cereal production, which currently accounts for around 75% of all land under cultivation, while only generating 15% of the revenue. In order to achieve this goal, the plan has targeted a number of segments within the agricultural sector; however, organic produce has been identified as a particular focus due to the projected increase in output and revenue. In 2010 the total area under cultivation for organic produce was 380 ha, but this has increased to 8000 ha in 2019. While this shows considerable progress, there is still much more to be done to reach the PMV’s goal of having 40,000 ha under plantation.

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The Report: Morocco 2019

Agriculture chapter from The Report: Morocco 2019

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