The picture is becoming clearer in the aftermath of the "Al Haouz earthquake" that hit Morocco last Friday. According to several corroborating accounts, the earthquake had no significant impact on crops. The hardest-hit villages, some of which have been completely wiped off the map, are remote and isolated in the high mountains, where the main agricultural activity is small-scale arboriculture and herb production.
A grower from Zagora told FreshPlaza: "Roughly speaking, the human and material impact of the earthquake depends on two factors: altitude and architecture. It's the mountain communities, living in traditional clay houses, that have been worst affected. These communities practice subsistence agriculture based on arboriculture, such as fruit and olives, and the production of herbs, such as saffron, for self-consumption or in small volumes sold on the local market. These communities live mainly from mountain tourism rather than agriculture".
"The areas where commercial agriculture is concentrated are located at low altitudes, and the material damage has not affected crops, as is the case in Agadir, Marrakech, Taroudant, and elsewhere," he continues.
Another grower based in the Marrakech region said, "Nothing to report, the crops are spared, as are our agricultural infrastructures, including irrigation installations. We had to stop work at the beginning of the week, but we have now resumed."
In Taroudant, one of the worst-affected regions, crops suffered no damage, shares a local citrus grower, "The worst-affected areas are high-altitude zones that are not home to large-scale farming. In my case and from what I've seen of other growers, the crops are intact."
Earlier this week, a grower based in Agadir, one of the most important regions in terms of produce volumes, declared that growers had not recorded any losses related to the earthquake. He said: "The greenhouses are shaken but stable. However, operations are at a standstill, as farm workers and packing house workers did not show up, which is quite understandable, as they have to look after their families."
However, the same source reported losses of fruit and olive trees in certain areas, specifying that this involves subsistence agriculture that is difficult to quantify but is, in any case, of small volumes.
In Ouarzazate, a grower told FreshPlaza that he had suffered losses to his irrigation pipes and a water pumping station, mentioning that the earthquake damage in his region was, at worst, similar to his case. He added, "The damage is above all human. The areas most affected are rural and provide the workforce."
One of the most visible consequences of the earthquake on the agricultural sector, reported by several producers, is the change in the flow of underground water sources, some increasing and others decreasing. The violence of the earthquake even led to the appearance of new water springs.