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Morocco: Rise in vegetable prices linked to water shortage and retailer margins

Vegetables have inevitably become more expensive in Morocco due to water shortages and high production costs, but the levels they have reached have aroused consumer criticism, as they have exceeded the acceptable limits due to trader practices.

The prices of some commodities, such as carrots, have doubled, while other commodities, like potatoes, have become up to 50 percent more expensive.

Said Frikan, president of the Association of users and professionals of the wholesale market for vegetables and fruits in Casablanca, told the "New Arab" that the high profit margins of retailers has caused the rise in prices of goods to consumers, so the issue is no longer limited to just supply and demand.

Producer Mohamed Ben Ibrahim, however, said that the high production costs and water shortages have been to blame for the price hikes. Morocco has been suffering from water scarcity in many areas due to poor rainfall last season, which fell by 42%, according to official data, affecting the water supply.

Moroccan growers say production costs are high for them and that this is reflected in the market price, noting that they have to pay the cost of inputs such as fertilizers, water, fuel and labour.

He adds that retailer profits, which sometimes reach 70% compared to the price paid at origin, have also led to rising market prices for consumers.

According to Bouazza al-Kharati, head of the Moroccan Federation of Consumer Rights, rising prices sometimes come from non-compliance with the Freedom of Price and Competition Act.

Al-Kharati says that the market for green vegetables, fruits and red and white meat is seeing an increase in the amount of intermediaries in several stages, with the buying and re-selling of goods before reaching the end consumer, allowing these intermediaries to make big profits.

According to the High Commissioner for Government Planning, vegetables contributed to the rise in food prices recorded between August and September, as they became 4.2% more expensive, while fruit prices rose by about 5.5%.
But observers believe that the real price increases actually exceed what the High Commissioner for Planning announced, taking into account that the institution relies on inaccurate estimates.


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