The Kingdom of Morocco says it will launch 110 new projects in 2018 that are aimed at boosting agricultural production and raising product quality across its 12 regions.
Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch said the projects due to be launched under the Pillar II project of the Green Morocco Plan include the development of oases to sustain irrigated green belts and the roll-out of argan tree plantations.
The argan is an evergreen Moroccan shrub which produces hard, heavy wood and yields seeds whose oil can be used for cooking purposes and the manufacture of cosmetics.
The multi-faceted agricultural development plan includes the investment of DH3.39 billion into the Rural Development and Mountainous Areas Fund in order to close the gaps in land ownership disparities among rural populations.
To boost farm product quality, the project will focus on seed and plant inspection and certification in a programme intended to cover 40 million plants (including 20 million strawberry and 20 million fruit trees).
It will also cover the vaccination and treatment of up to 8 million head of cattle against the main diseases prevalent in the country, as well as meat inspection and fisheries control. The country’s total agricultural sector budget for 2018 is DH9 944 million, which represents a 10% surge from the 2017 budget of DH9 051 million.
The rise has been attributed to the increase in the number of irrigation and agricultural development projects. Meanwhile, King Mohammed VI has issued a royal decree directing all Moroccans to pray for rains to avert a drought that threatens to derail the government’s agricultural development plans.
He called on all Moroccans to pray and “implore the Almighty to spread his benevolent rains on earth”. The country plans to use Royal Police aircraft in cloud seeding operations aimed averting a potentially disastrous cropping season. Nearly 40% of the Moroccan population depends on rain-fed agriculture.