MOROCCO – Morocco witnessed a notable surge in earnings from vegetable exports, reaching close to USD 1.6 billion in 2023, despite a decrease in volume with the monetary gain reflecting a 12% increase compared to the previous year.

According to the report by EastFruit, despite facing challenges such as adverse weather conditions, which led to a 14% reduction in export tonnage to 1.06 million tons, Morocco managed to surpass its five-year average by 5%.

Greenhouse tomatoes played a pivotal role in driving the country’s export revenue, constituting nearly three-quarters of the total fresh vegetable export value.

Although the sector experienced a setback due to soaring summer temperatures, resulting in an 11% decline in greenhouse tomato exports to 660,000 tons, Morocco maintained its position as the world’s third-largest exporter of fresh tomatoes, following Mexico and the Netherlands.

Sweet peppers remained a significant revenue generator in the vegetable segment. Morocco witnessed a noteworthy increase in both the volume and value of sweet pepper exports, with a 4% rise in physical export volumes to 174,000 tons and an impressive 55% surge in monetary value, amounting to USD 230 million.

Zucchini and pumpkins secured the third position in terms of export revenue, with zucchini exports maintaining relative stability year-over-year in both quantity and value.

In 2023, Morocco exported a combined total of 47,000 tons of zucchini and pumpkins, valued at $45 million.

Greenhouse cucumbers emerged as the fourth-highest revenue contributor, with exports contributing USD 23 million to the economy. Cucumber exports witnessed a substantial growth of 60% in 2023.

Furthermore, various greens and herbs, including parsley and tarragon, made significant contributions totaling USD 14 million to the export figures, along with notable contributions from carrots, onions, sweet corn, and various brassica categories.

This news comes shortly after Spain raised concerns over Moroccan melons drawing criticism from consumer rights group.

Spanish authorities raised alarm bells on Friday regarding melons imported from Morocco, citing “dangerous” levels of a pesticide, according to reports from Spanish media outlets.

Analysis conducted at a border control point revealed residues of the pesticide chlorpyrifos exceeding permissible levels in the watermelons.

This development follows a similar alert issued just a month prior, concerning strawberries from Morocco found to contain hepatitis A, posing a “serious risk” to consumers.

The European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) classified the Moroccan watermelons as “potentially dangerous” due to the excessive presence of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide commonly used in agriculture.

The RASFF alert led to the halt of distribution of the implicated Moroccan melons in Spain. However, the decision faced criticism for the lack of critical details in the announcement regarding the claimed discovery of “dangerous” pesticide levels in Moroccan exports.

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