MOROCCO – Morocco’s melon exports to Spain has reached an all-time high level with USD10 million in export revenues and 13.8 thousand tons in volume, new report highlights.

The report, compiled by East Fruit, highlights how Spain’s adverse weather patterns in 2023 contributed significantly to the surge in imports from Morocco.

Heatwaves, heavy rains, and hailstorms devastated local melon crops, pushing Spain to seek imports not just during spring but also in the summer months. 

With Senegal’s season ended and Brazil’s yet to begin, Morocco swiftly emerged as the primary supplier, shipping over 8 thousand tons in July alone – more than half of the total volume for the year.

While Brazil typically dominates Spain’s imports, Morocco’s share of Spain’s total imports rose from 6-8% to an astounding 18%, making the country the third largest melon supplier to Spain, overtaking the Netherlands.

The figures indicate that Morocco is rapidly emerging as a strong watermelon exporter. On a global level, Moroccan growers have positioned themselves as the 12th largest melon exporter.

With 57 thousand tons already shipped abroad in 2023, revenues from watermelon exports exceeded USD 61 million. While Morocco’s melon trade is increasingly on the rise, France remains the main export market in an expanding network of 40 countries.

Thriving in EU markets

The demand for Moroccan watermelon in the EU has shown a significant upward trend in 2023.

In another report published mid this year, Morocco had interestingly overtaken Italy to become the second largest supplier of watermelon in the European Union, second only to Spain.

Morocco’s watermelon supplies to the EU markets have been on a steady rise, according to data from statistical service Euroestacom (Icex-Eurostat) quoted in Spanish media.

According to the data in the report, Morocco’s watermelon exports to the EU nearly doubled between 2019 and 2022, going from around 149,000 kilograms to 270,000 kilograms. However, Spain’s supplies dropped from 681,000 in 2019 to 520,000 in 2022.

Moreover, Morocco was also the fourth biggest melon exporter to the European Union (EU) in 2020, with exports valued at EUR 59.8 million (USD 65.22 million). The total EU imports of melons in 2020 were valued at EUR 738 million (USD 804.79 million)

Watermelon and water scarcity in Morocco 

Morocco is currently grappling with water security, and the country has been actively attempting to restrict the cultivation of water-intensive crops.

In September 2022, the Agriculture Ministry announced discontinuing irrigation subsidies for watermelon and avocado crops. 

In October of this year, authorities in Zagora, a key production province of the water-intensive crop, issued a decision limiting the maximum areas allowed for the cultivation of watermelon to one hectare.

The decision to halt irrigation subsidies was prompted by a wave of online campaigns advocating for the halt of water-intensive crop cultivation. 

Moroccan environmental organizations, including Morocco Environment 2050, have been urging the government to halt the cultivation of watermelon and avocados.

Last year’s severe drought pushed Moroccan dams to a record-low filling rate, marking a five-year low. 

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