Persistent drought and adverse weather conditions have impacted the avocado season in Morocco, but volumes remain steady with the entry of new growers in the industry. Mr. Abdellah Elyamlahi, president of the Moroccan Avocado Association (MAVA, producers representative), talks to us about the avocado season in Morocco and his outlook for the coming years.
"The heat wave that Morocco experienced last year disrupted the flowering phase and caused a decline in volumes. Moreover, many producers decided to delay the harvest as they were not satisfied with the demand and preferred to wait for the stabilization of the market rather than sell at inadequate prices. All these reasons caused a decrease in productivity", explains Elyamlahi.
However, the volumes remained constant due to a larger acreage this year, "We have reached the same volume as the 2021-2022 season, with about 40 thousand tons produced, of which 34 thousand tons were exported. We have met our commitments to our customers" said the exporters representative.
in September 2022, the Moroccan government decided to suspend the irrigation subsidy for avocado, among other hydrovore crops, due to the persistent drought. Mr. Elyamlahi commented: "This decision was indeed enforced. But it only affected smallholder producers. The large-scale producers can take the loss and continue to operate, especially since the avocado sector remains profitable."
Avocado production is mainly concentrated in regions with large groundwater reserves, such as the Loukous basin (Larache), and in the Bouregreg basin (Kenitra), "Unlike other regions, groundwater around Loukous and Bouregreg is abundant and has low salinity".
Despite this decline in productivity, the industry remains solid, according to Mr. Abdellah: "The proof is that more and more investors enter the field each year. True, there is a decline in productivity, but this situation comes under exceptional circumstances and we will eventually bounce back. In terms of development, we estimate that the industry will triple in the next 3-4 years, to reach an export volume of 100 thousand tons, thanks to a steadily increasing demand from the European market, especially the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia." The most produced varieties are Hass, Zutano, Feurte and Bacon.
This demand is explained by the quality of the Moroccan avocado, says Mr. Elyamlahi: "Morocco is an agricultural country by excellence, we have a strong experience and knowledge, the quality of the soil and water allows us to produce very good avocados, whether by the aesthetic aspect or taste. We respect social and environmental norms, and our clients are satisfied".
The quality is so similar that ... "One could not even distinguish the Moroccan avocado from the Spanish one, we even see Spanish traders importing Moroccan avocados without packaging for rebranding in the European market."
According to the producer, another decisive advantage over Latin American avocados is the geographical proximity to the European market: "In three days, we can deliver fresh avocados anywhere in Europe, which allows us to satisfy the demand and not let the market lack avocados. Now, supermarket chains ask for the Moroccan avocado as an origin".
Mr. Elyamlahi concludes: "As the association of producers (MAVA), we contribute to the structuring of exporters, supporting them in new techniques, quality certifications as well as social certifications, and staying up to date with production standards and new varieties."
For more information:
Mr. Abdellah Elyamlahi
Moroccan Avocado Association (MAVA)