Morocco is grappling with a setback in its tomato production, with estimates suggesting a potential 20% loss due to the rugose virus, a concerning development for a country that has seen a consistent rise in tomato exports to the European market in recent years.
The tomato rugose virus (ToBRFV) has significantly impacted Moroccan tomato growers, prompting warnings from Spanish agricultural organizations about potential repercussions on the European market.
While the exact economic impact of ToBRFV is challenging to currently quantify , initial estimtes indicate losses ranging between 15% and 20% of production.
There is a growing concern that these figures might escalate further, as reported by Agrimaroc.
The economic ramifications are several as producers will grapple with reduced income due to diminished production and lower selling prices.
Simultaneously, the costs associated with implementing ToBRFV prevention and control measures, such as acquiring certified seeds and deploying chemical treatments, are increasing the financial strain on producers.
Compounding these challenges is a dwindling demand and market difficulties, both domestically and internationally, driven by restrictions on tomatoes infected with the virus.
According to the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), the tomato rugose virus was first identified in Morocco in October 2021 in the Souss-Massa region, followed by its detection in the Dakhla region in March 2022.
The gravity of the rugose virus issue raises concerns about the potential slowdown in Moroccan tomato exports, which have experienced a remarkable upswing in the European market.
From 2013 to 2022, Moroccan tomato imports to Europe surged by 52%, escalating from 365,695 tonnes to 557,225 tonnes, an increase of almost 200,000 tonnes.
This trajectory, according to the EU Tomato Market Observatory, raises the prospect of Spain transforming into a net importer of tomatoes by 2035.