Researchers monitor Morocco’s ability to be a regional leader in food industries

A “modern policy document” published by the Moroccan Institute for Strategic Intelligence (known by its acronym IMIS), which monitors the reality and perspectives of the food industry sector in Morocco and the Euro-African region and was supervised by three Moroccan researchers in in the field, Ahmed Azirar, economic researcher and research coordinator of said institute, Aisha Qortobi, consultant in food industries, and Ahlam Mohammadi, professor at the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fez.

flagrant contradiction

Starting with its title, the newspaper, published in French, does not hesitate to ask a question about the capacity and ability of the Kingdom of Morocco to become “in the near future (the horizon of 2030) a regional leader in its environment in the sector of the food industry”, before his presentation sheds light on what the researchers described as “one of the great paradoxes that characterize the Moroccan economy”, is that “Morocco, although it is an agricultural country and a great exporter of products foodstuffs, is often classified by the World Trade Organization as a net importer of these products.

The researchers also attributed this “contrast”, in large part, to what they saw as “the gap between the upstream (source) value chains and their downstream counterparts”; As the closest scientific explanation to that paradox.

The same research paper, of which Hespress has a copy, provided significant and expressive figures on the state of the “food industry sector” and its fundamental contribution to the Moroccan economic system, noting that it “generates 30 billion dirhams of value added , which represents 26 percent of the industrial gross domestic product.” in Morocco”.

Although “around 2,000 companies are working and active in the food industry in Morocco, it contributes to the employment of more than 150,000 people, or 25 percent of the workforce in the entire industrial field.”

However, the document goes on to highlight that Moroccan food and agricultural industries “still consist mainly of small-scale enterprises (SMIs) (i.e. companies with less than 200 employees) given that they represent 95 percent of the sector”, before add that “These companies represent only about half of Morocco’s agri-food production, while the remaining 5 percent is the largest and represents almost 55 percent of the production volume.”

It was notable that the research paper monitors the nature and quality of companies active in the food industry sector in Morocco; They “belong to national groups or multinational companies with foreign capital.”

new challenges

In their article, the three researchers raised the problem of the emergence of “a new generation of challenges stemming from the global turmoil in the post-Covid pandemic stage, and the geopolitical instability resulting from the Ukraine crisis, in the face of the growth of the sector. . opportunities and its search for continental and regional leadership”.

“Despite its agricultural orientation, especially agriculture of all kinds, Morocco continues to be classified by the World Trade Organization among the net importers of food products,” adds the same source, pointing out that Morocco is a country that buys food abroad in large quantities. quantities (especially wheat, oils and sugar).

Likewise, the fact that “imports, which are offset by a strong flow of exports, whether fresh products or canned vegetables and animals, are constantly increasing, should not hide the risks of food insecurity suffered by Morocco. due to its strong dependence on imports of basic products”, warns the document.

Perhaps the global health crisis resulting from the emerging coronavirus, in this sense, according to Moroccan researchers, “a valuable indicator of the level of risks that threaten the growth opportunities of food industries in Morocco”.

The document considered that “even if the Kingdom of Morocco has a slight surplus in the agricultural trade balance (with strong fluctuations from time to time), the bill for imported food products continues to weigh down the commercial and financial balances of the country”, noting that “The military conflict in Europe between two major food exporting countries (Russia and Ukraine) shed light on this heavy dependency, especially after the high prices and risks currently facing global supply and supply chains.”

preparation for tomorrow

This policy document concluded, among its most important recommendations, that “the crisis highlighted the absolute need and necessity of guaranteeing independence and food security, taking fully into account the sanitary safety conditions of food products, as well as working to reinforce the commitment to sustainability”, highlighting that “the ambition of the Moroccan leadership in the food industries sector is Preparation for it must start from today”.

The researchers suggested that “solutions include opportunities to shorten global value chains and take advantage of emerging opportunities to establish regional partnerships in many parts of these chains around the world, especially within South-South partnerships.”

The document also values, among its conclusions, the “recovery strategy implemented by the Moroccan public sectors to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis”, noting that “it provides the opportunity to make strategic changes to take advantage of the opportunities allowed ”. by the transformations taking place in global value chains”.

The document considers that “from the horizontal point of view, there are opportunities for Morocco to rationalize imports and enhance Mediterranean, Asian and American trade”; Vertically, there are opportunities to develop new investment partnerships with Europe, which is also reviewing its strategies, as well as with Africa based on a south-south axis and a win-win logic.

The document also called for “using what already exists as a starting point; Because confidence in the contribution and integration of production and value chains is a fundamental factor, especially since the Green Generation Plan aims to value 70% of agricultural production by 2030; What is reflected positively in a significant increase in the national added value”.

The achievement of these objectives depends, according to these experts who have prepared the work, on “the completion of contracts by contract programs, such as those signed with professionals in the food industry, and their rapid review based on new commitments”.