In rural areas, weekly souks represent the main place for consumers to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Rabat – Moroccan authorities have given the green light to weekly produce markets in 12 rural regions, the Interprofessional Federation of the Poultry Sector (FISA) announced.
“Starting Sunday, [May 10], 12 weekly souks (markets) will reopen in compliance with sanitary measures,” a report quoted FISA.
The souks affected by the changes are in Sidi Kacem, Figuig, Tetouan, Khenifra, Safi, Errachidia, Fkih Ben Salah, Boulemane, Settat, Chtouka Ait Baha, Khemisset, and Jerada.
The decision to reopen the souks is based on the epidemiological situation in the regions. Authorities maintain the right to ban the markets again according to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid crowding, the souks will take place over four days instead of one in order to reduce the number of simultaneous visitors.
Reopening the souks came after workers in Morocco’s poultry sector filed complaints about the decline in their sales due to the suspension of weekly markets, FISA recalled.
The poultry sector employs approximately 300,000 Moroccans, either directly or indirectly. In 2019, the sector generated MAD 30 billion ($3.05 billion). Morocco counts more than 9,000 poultry livestock farms, 200 laying chicken farms, 40 hatcheries, 40 factories operating in the poultry sector, as well as 25 modern slaughterhouses and thousands of traditional ones.
In rural areas, weekly markets are the only opportunity for consumers to purchase livestock.
On March 14, Morocco’s Ministry of Interior banned weekly souks along with all gatherings of more than 50 people as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.
Authorities made the decision to ban large gatherings when Morocco had only confirmed eight COVID-19 cases, including one death and one recovery.
While the decision to reopen weekly souks in the least affected regions aims to revive the poultry and livestock sectors, it remains to be seen whether more markets will reopen in the future, especially as the scheduled end date of the nationwide lockdown, set on May 20, is nearing.