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Morocco: big waste of citrus fruits

In Morocco, huge quantities of citrus fruits are left in the orchards or spilled out on the side of the country roads.

This is common procedure for damaged fruits but the situation this year seems to be the result of overproduction. 60,000 extra tons of citrus fruits were produced this year because of the good weather conditions; a surplus that flooded the local market and led to a strong reduction of prices.

Although the overall volume is expected to be 2.6 million tons out of the 2.9 million tons foreseen in the contract program, the target should be reached by 2020, as the new plantations go into full production. Besides, the surfaces targeted by the contract program have already been exceeded by 20% (125,000 ha compared to the initially foreseen 105,000).

“The agricultural production is racing while the distribution, and the valuation especially, are still very slow,” claims an employee of Agadir. So much so that many sectors consider this agricultural strategy to be the “victim of its own success”. Although the figures on the national market seem to be correct, the export market has only reached 50% of its objective. Barely 650,000 tons of citrus fruits were exported during the 2017-2018 campaign, while the target was set at 1.2 million tons. This lack of exports makes the producers worried about the sustainability of their sector.

“Exporting is the solution, combined with well-defined upstream and downstream marketing strategies. Several measures are necessary to achieve this, such as setting up processing facilities, adapting the production to international quality standards, and providing financial support to small farmers so they can comply with those quality standards,” as explained to L’Economiste by Mohammed Kantari, producer and manager of a packaging station.

Another factor that could explain this situation are the transportation costs : the price for one loaded truck went from 1,500 to 500 DH [350 to 120 USD]. In addition to this, the region is still lacking operational processing facilities, contrary to expectations, which has had a significant impact on the packaging stations.

Source : l’é

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