King Mohammed VI gave a speech before the members of both houses of Parliament on the opening of the first session of the third legislative year of the tenth legislature on Friday.
This parliamentary year has the motto “the spirit of responsibility and hard work.”
King Mohammed VI believes that providing employment for youth in rural areas, especially the rural middle class, could serve “as a lever” for the country’s economic and social development, in the same way as it does for the urban middle class.
David Cowan, managing director economist for Africa at Citibank, shares the same perspective on investing in agriculture. He believes that Morocco should focus on developing agriculture across the country, especially in rural areas.
“Go back to investing in agriculture. You can’t have industrial growth everywhere. You create industrial corridors,” he told Morocco World News during the fifth annual Citigroup Media and Community Summit in Dubai.
Creating more employment and income-generating opportunities will improve living conditions and consolidate stability in rural areas, especially for youth.
This is the only way to encourage young people “to remain on their land,” according to the King.
According to a report by Morocco’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CECE), young people suffer the highest unemployment rates, which exceeded 40 percent in urban areas in 2017. The overall unemployment rate reached 26.5 percent in the same year.
The King urged the government “to come up with innovative mechanisms” to motivate farmers “to become more actively involved in productive agricultural cooperatives and groupings, and to seek training in the agricultural field.”
In Morocco, those who live in rural regions are the most susceptible to poverty. In 2014, the poverty line in rural areas was set at an annual income per capita of MAD 4,312, compared to MAD 4,667 in urban areas.
According to the CECE report, upward social mobility is attained by more men than women (43.7 percent compared to 17.9 percent), and by more city-dwellers than people who live in the country (51.1 percent to 14.8 percent). On the other hand, downward mobility affects more women (61 percent) than men (24.1 percent) and more rural women (44 percent) than urban women (19.3 percent).
In his speech, the monarch also affirmed that small farmers should be given ways to market their products to fight speculators and mediators.
Mediators’ intrusion in the marketing process of agricultural products reduces farmers’ financial benefits.
The King also asked for providing investors with easy access to land to ramp up agricultural productivity and increase job opportunities.
King Mohammed VI expressed his opposition to the phenomenon of excessive fragmentation of agricultural land, which has a negative impact on productivity.
For this reason, the monarch emphasized the need to curb fragmentation and to provide technical and financial support to help farmers invest in their lands.
He also indicated the importance of using communal agricultural land (sulaliyat) for investment projects. This would “serve as a powerful lever for improved economic and social conditions, especially for rights holders.”
“This should make it possible to secure at least one million additional hectares of this land,” the King said.
King Mohammed VI affirmed, “Everyone should carry out his or her mission in full, making sure convictions and differences are respected.”