Two years of drought have drained the reservoirs in southern Morocco, threatening the region’s crops. In the rich citrus plantations of El Guerdan, east of from the city of Agadir, more than half of farmers rely on two dams in the mountains of Aoulouz, 126 km away, to irrigate their trees.
However, that water has been diverted to the tourist hub of Agadir, where mains water has been cut to residential areas every night since October 3 to ensure taps in households did not run entirely dry.
“The priority should go to drinking water,” Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said in parliament last week.
In El Guerdan, the many clementine oranges are now in danger due to the reduced water supply that affects both the quality of fruit and the size of the harvest. And El Guerdan is not alone in facing drought. Morocco’s harvest of cereals this year was less than half that of 2019, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars of extra import costs.
Despite lower production, Moroccan exports of fresh produce have risen this year by 8%. Critics of the government’s agricultural policy say such sales are tantamount to exporting water itself, given the crops use up so many resources.