The one-month delay in the start of the Moroccan agricultural season due to climate change has had a mixed impact on exporters. Asmae Baibane, Export Manager at BL Agri, shares her perspective on this unusual situation.
According to Baibane, the delay in the start of the season could be a blessing in disguise for exporters since the campaign normally begins at a time when prices are low. She explains: "Initially, the impact was negative due to lower demand and prices. However, as weather conditions change and demand increases, the results may be more positive. Exporters may experience a shorter but potentially more lucrative sales period, although this may be offset by increased logistical challenges and the need for rapid market response."
Moroccan produce arrived late on the markets, but just in time when demand was on the rise, which will boost volumes provided weather conditions improve, adds Baibane. "It has been difficult to maintain the same volume levels as last season due to the delay in the season's kick-off. Overall volumes may have been lower, particularly in the initial phase of the campaign. However, as demand picks up and conditions become more favorable, efforts will be made to increase production to meet the late surge in demand."
Among the areas where adaptability is required is varietal selection. Climatic conditions coupled with phytosanitary problems have put considerable pressure on seed suppliers, resulting in a seed shortage for many vegetables. Baibane says that this parameter now also factors into the configuration of the season. She explains: "The seed shortage has forced exporters to adapt their crop portfolios. This means diversifying into different varieties that are either more readily available or more resistant to changing climatic conditions. Such a change could affect both marketing opportunities and export prices."
Seen overseas, the delay in launching the Moroccan campaign has not translated into a lack of supply since the peak of European demand comes when the weather is colder, from December onwards. The exporter says: "Demand for Moroccan fruit and vegetables probably fluctuates according to market conditions and climatic impacts in Europe. Some markets may have reacted more favorably to the late surge in Moroccan exports, while others, possibly those with alternative supply chains, may have been slower. It is essential to analyze market-specific trends to understand which markets are performing well and which are lagging behind."
Baibane continues: "Given the particular circumstances of this season, prices have varied considerably compared with last year. Initially, oversupply in the European market and falling demand generally lead to lower prices. However, as the season progresses and demand increases, prices rise again and exceed last year's levels."
"All in all, the agricultural sector, particularly in the context of exports, must continuously adapt to the unpredictable impacts of climate change, balancing supply and demand dynamics while navigating logistical and market challenges," concludes the exporter.