Interview: Mohamed El Guerrouj
To what extent has the implementation of publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) in agriculture contributed to the development of the sector?
MOHAMED EL GUERROUJ: PPPs were launched in 2004 as part of the government’s strategic vision to liberalise the economy, as the process of leasing agricultural state land had previously been handled by state companies. This vision has set a number of goals to enhance the value of land assets, aiming to develop agricultural segments and create job opportunities in rural areas.
The partnership operation involved 102,000 ha of state-owned farmland and will draw over Dh21bn (€2.28bn) of investment. Moreover, around 55,000 jobs will be created. The partnership will oversee the planting of 16,700 ha of citrus, 19,520 ha of olives, 9843 ha of other fruits (vines, apple trees, etc) and the establishment of 437 agribusiness units, including 194 processing units and 91 cold units.
Moreover, the Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV) retained aggregation as a preferred mode of organisation, based on the voluntary association of farmers (aggregate) around a main actor (aggregator) to optimise the production process. From the third phase of the partnership, mobilised land was retained as a lever to develop aggregation, accompanied by the reform of the Agricultural Development Fund (Fonds de Développement Agricole, FDA) in 2008, based particularly on the establishment of a specific incentive system dedicated to aggregation projects. Relations between aggregators and aggregates are combined in a final contract that specifies the respective obligations of both parties. As such, the enactment of Laws No. 04-12 on farm aggregation should give a new impetus to this innovative model of organisation.
What kind of barriers exist to attracting greater levels of investment in agriculture?
EL GUERROUJ: The PMV rests on two pillars: investment and access to land. Regarding investment, we have encouraged private actors to enter high-potential areas with good irrigation, using the FDA as the main tool. That said, the state remains the major driver in disadvantaged areas where agriculture lacks appeal to investors. However, even where the government creates value by forming cooperatives, the ultimate objective remains to attract private investment.
As far as access to land is concerned, the agency is responsible for leasing state-owned land. Since April 2013, there has been a new emphasis in giving access to small producers by integrating them in PPPs. To that end, there was an offer made specifically for small farmers that represents the focus of about 45% of small projects, from the overall total of 369 projects launched since 2013. The offer abolishes the prior requirement for them to demonstrate their financial capacity, while at the same time decreasing the bid bond.
What are the major incentives designed to facilitate greater investment in agriculture?
EL GUERROUJ: The investment climate has improved, thanks in part to measures such as the subsidies granted by the FDA. The agricultural insurance sector recently launched a multi-risk product, while the PMV includes the creation of six integrated sites covering the main production areas of Meknès, Berkane, Souss, Massa Draâ, Gharb, Tadla and Haouz. Moreover, we are working to facilitate the access of Moroccan agricultural products to international markets, for example through the agricultural agreement agreed with the EU and the free trade agreement signed with the US.
To what extent can Morocco do more to enhance its promotion of locally produced goods?
EL GUERROUJ: Our strategy must focus on raising the quality of locally produced goods to international standards. Further to this, we have identified the various European markets that we aim to enter, and have taken part in many exhibitions featuring local goods. In addition to this, we have organised business-to-business transactions in Paris, Abu Dhabi and Gabon.
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