The Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, Mohamed Sadiki, indicated on Monday May 17 that the reservoirs of dams for agricultural use still show a significant deficit this year, estimated at 2 billion of m3 compared to last year.
“In addition to the low rainfall and its delay, the rainfall profile was also characterized by poor temporal and territorial distribution”explained Sadiki, who was answering oral questions in the House of Representatives on the results of the current agricultural campaign.
“Since the beginning of the agricultural campaign and until today, the rainfall has reached only 200 mm, a decrease of 43% compared to the average of the last 30 years”added the Minister.
The Minister said that 60% of the cumulative rainfall took place in March and April, noting that these precipitations contributed to the restoration of the vegetation cover to a normal level in certain regions.
“The monitoring by satellite images of the vegetation cover shows vegetation profiles that are generally similar to the 2015-2016 agricultural campaign”he continued.
With regard to cereal crops, the Minister indicated that the area sown amounted to 3.6 million hectares this year, noting the forecast production of the main cereals (common wheat, durum wheat and barley) is estimated at 32 million quintals (Mqx), down 69% compared to the previous campaign which recorded production among the records.
“In addition, more than 60% of production comes from areas of the regions of Fez-Meknes, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra and Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima”remarked Sadiki, adding that “ Cereals in irrigated areas contributed only about 20% to overall production, due partly to the limited irrigated area under cereals and partly to the irrigation restrictions imposed at the level of these zones. .
With regard to spring crops, Sadiki indicated that the last rainy episode in March and April favored a good establishment of these crops and seasonal vegetable crops as well as their development, so far, under favorable conditions. Thus, the total cultivated area of spring crops reached 230,000 hectares, divided into corn (115,000 hectares), chickpeas (75,000 hectares), sunflowers (30,000 hectares) and dry beans (8,700 hectares).
In terms of sugar crops, the cultivated area of sugar beets amounts to 39,000 hectares and that of sugar cane to 10,000 hectares, the minister stressed, noting that preliminary forecasts count on a production of 380,000 tons of white sugar, i.e. the same level of the previous campaign (388,000 tons) and this, despite the fall in the area cultivated this year.
As for citrus fruits,“olive trees, palm trees and rosaceae in the flowering stage, they show good production prospects, although they remain dependent on the evolution of weather conditions, particularly during the months of May, June and the beginning of July“, he said.
On the other hand, Sadiki noted that exports of fruits and vegetables recorded, as of today, an increase of 18% compared to the previous campaign, to settle at 1.246 million tons, of which 571,000 tons of tomatoes, or 46% of total exports, noting that citrus exports reached 707,000 tons, up 41% compared to the previous campaign.
He also stressed that the improvement of routes and fodder resources for the spring season and the support provided to breeders by the exceptional program have enabled the herd to regain, in part, its market value, affirming that the health situation of livestock is satisfactory in all the regions of the Kingdom, thanks to the interventions of the National Food Safety Office (ONSSA).
Sadiki, in this sense, highlighted the completion of the process of identifying fattening units, as part of the preparations for Aid Al-Adha, with the registration of 240,000 units, and the start of that of control, indicating that the operation to identify sheep and goats is continuing and should concern 7 million.
“Taking into account all these factors, the agricultural Gross Domestic Product should register a maximum decline of 14% this year, due to the difficult climatic conditions and the exceptional performance recorded last year”he concluded.