Rabat – Morocco’s continentally hailed agriculture continues to inspire many across the African continent, with several African countries pledging to export “Moroccan expertise” to enhance national output.
At the Africa Agri Forum held in Libreville, Gabon, on Thursday, November 21, participants spoke generously of Morocco’s “successful” sustainable agriculture model.
According to a report from MAP, the Libreville forum’s panels particularly addressed the challenge of financing small farmers and medium-sized agriculture-related companies across the continent. The main challenge of African agriculture is the lack of investments in the sector, most panelists said.
While agriculture remains the principal economic sector in many countries across the continent, small farmers, who are the main drivers of the agricultural industry in Africa, do not have access to banking credits or other investments venues that may bring their business to a level where farmers can both feed their families and commercialize another part of their output.
On the investments front, MAP reported, one recurring topic at the Africa Agri Forum was “Morocco’s efforts to finance agriculture projects and attract young people” to the sector.
In the face of multiple challenges facing national agriculture policies on the continent, and with the challenges mostly stemming from the structural disparities governing an increasingly globalizing economy, Morocco has become a model to emulate for many African countries.
El Mostafa Chehhar, a senior official at Credit Agricole du Maroc, one of the main financial pillars of Morocco’s Green Morocco plan to boost sustainable agriculture, explained the different policies, structural reforms, and investment channels Morocco has put in place to alleviate the burden of small scale, rural farmers.
Sharing “Moroccan expertise” with African partners, which is often touted as part of “embracing Morocco’s African responsibility,” has been a consistent theme in policy circles in Morocco. Morocco’s OCP, a global leader in the production of fertilizers and related agricultural products, has been at the forefront of Morocco’s Africa outreach.
With its OCP Africa subsidiary, created in 2016 as Morocco rose to continental prominence, the Moroccan group has struck of number of deals with many sub-Saharan countries.
OCP’s African efforts include establishing fertilizer plants in some countries, accompanying some governments in their bid to adopt sound agricultural policies, and providing training and scholarships to the “future leaders of the continent.”
Myriam Ben Saiad, who represented OCP at the Libreville forum, spoke about the Moroccan company’s efforts to make agriculture more appealing to Moroccan—and African—youth. Investing in sustainable agriculture, she said, is among the surest paths towards realizing Africa’s development potential.
As the continent’s future leaders, she explained, young people should be at the forefront of the push for prosperity and agricultural self-sufficiency across Africa. She cited the foundation of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University as part and parcel of OCP’s readiness to play its role in radically transforming African agriculture.
Morocco wants to lead the way as African governments push for policies to adapt agriculture on the continent to the challenges of a digitized, relentlessly globalizing world economy. As OCP and other Moroccan groups—especially in the banking and telecom sectors—made headway in Africa in recent years, Morocco’s African leadership ambition has not gone unnoticed.
“Morocco Inc,” as one report recently put it, is becoming an indispensable player in the emergence of a “genuinely postcolonial order” in Africa. As it insistently recalls the importance of boosting intra-African exchanges, including agricultural cooperation, the report noted, Morocco’s “‘Africa Turn’… cannot be ignored if one is to understand contemporary Africa.”