MOROCCO – Morocco’s agricultural reservoirs stood at approximately 4.16 billion cubic meters as of May 31, 2024, marking a 30% filling rate compared to the same period last season.

During a session at the House of Counselors in Rabat on Tuesday, Mohamed Sadiki, Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, and Water and Forests, revealed the current water levels.

He noted that average cumulative precipitation levels reached 237 millimeters (mm) this season, identical to last year’s figures but 33% lower than the 30-year average of 355 mm.

Sadiki emphasized the importance of March’s rainfall, which has supported the cultivation of major springtime crops, including chickpeas, corn, sunflowers, dry beans, and vegetables.

“Despite the lower overall precipitation, March rains have been a lifeline for our spring crops,” Sadiki said.

The total area cultivated for springtime crops is approximately 144,000 hectares, achieving 89% of the programmed target.

The spring vegetable program covers 57,000 hectares, reaching 83% of its planned goal. Sadiki expressed confidence that these production levels will meet consumption needs for the upcoming summer.

Onions are the predominant crop, covering around 15,540 hectares, followed by potatoes (8,807 hectares), and tomatoes (4,308 hectares).

To support farmers and alleviate production costs, Morocco has implemented exceptional measures since July 2023.

These measures amount to 10 billion dirhams (around $1 billion), with 4 billion dirhams (USD 1.09 billion) specifically subsidizing nitrogen fertilizers.

This has benefited 84,000 people with 1.47 million quintals. Subsidies have also been provided for laboratory analysis of soil, water, and plants, as well as for tomato, potato, and onion seeds and seedlings.

Sadiki highlighted the distribution of cultivated areas, noting that potatoes cover 60%, onions 33%, and tomatoes 7%. These measures aim to bolster agricultural resilience amidst challenging climate conditions and ensure food security.

Meanwhile, satellite images analyzed by the BBC revealed a grim situation at the Al Massira Dam, Morocco’s second-largest reservoir.

Located between Casablanca and Marrakesh, the reservoir holds just 3% of the water it did nine years ago.

This drastic decline is attributed to six consecutive years of drought and climate change, which have caused record temperatures and increased evaporation.

The satellite images taken in March from 2018 to 2024 show a stark reduction in water levels, underscoring the severity of the drought.

The Moroccan government remains focused on addressing these challenges. Sadiki’s ministry continues to implement measures to support the agricultural sector and ensure food security.

“Our efforts are dedicated to sustaining agricultural productivity and supporting our farmers through these difficult times,” Sadiki affirmed.

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