As Morocco faces its sixth consecutive year of drought, water-intensive agricultural projects are under scrutiny. Climate change poses a major threat to the country, impacting the vast agricultural sector which employs 39% of the workforce. Recent reports indicate a 67% drop in rainfall and the country's water reservoirs are at a mere 23.5% capacity.
Concerns are mounting over the environmental impact of water-intensive crops like avocados, cultivated by foreign companies. An anonymous agronomy expert voiced concerns over the cultivation of such crops in the current climate. The irrigation of avocado trees, assuming usage of drip irrigation, could consume between 4,000 to 8,000 m3 of water per hectare.
Last year, Israel's largest fruit grower, Mehadrin, partnered with Moroccan firm Cherdoud to cultivate avocados across 500 hectares. The joint venture, which followed the normalisation agreement between Israel and Morocco, marked Mehadrin's debut in the North African country. The venture is expected to produce up to 10,000 tons of avocados annually, primarily for export to Europe, consuming between 2.5 and 4 million m3 of water yearly.
This water usage equates to the consumption of the entire city of Casablanca for 134 days. Local media reported last July that irrigation in the region was no longer viable, leading to soaring agricultural product prices and inflation. The Ministry of Water has not dismissed the possibility of reducing or cutting off water supplies if necessary.