Eid al-Adha, the second Islamic holiday of the year, represents the most important opportunity for farmers to sell livestock.
Rabat – Only two days after Eid al-Fitr, Moroccan authorities are already preparing for the country to celebrate Eid al-Adha in optimal conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch announced on Tuesday, May 26, at a session of the House of Councillors.
Eid al-Adha, the second Islamic holiday of the year, is expected to be celebrated in early August. During the celebration, Muslims slaughter sheep or other livestock as a form of sacrifice.
Morocco’s National Office for Food Health Safety (ONSSA) has selected and vaccinated more than 2.6 million sheep to be sold for the 2020 Eid al-Adha, Akhannouch revealed.
The main challenge for the religious holiday, according to the minister, is preventing rural markets, where livestock is usually sold, from turning into hotspots for COVID-19 transmission.
“The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop us from celebrating Eid al-Fitr, but the Eid al-Adha celebration poses logistical challenges and requires good planification and organization,” Akhannouch said.
The Ministry of Agriculture is closely collaborating with the Ministry of the Interior to “make the necessary preparations,” he added.
On March 14, Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior banned weekly rural markets along with all gatherings of more than 50 people as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.
In early May, Moroccan authorities gave the green light to the weekly markets to reopen in 12 rural regions with low COVID-19 case counts.
To avoid crowding, the souks take place over four days instead of one in order to reduce the number of simultaneous visitors.
Moroccan authorities are planning to reopen 40 more weekly markets in the near future on the condition of strict safety measures.
Authorities will also make more efforts to organize slaughterhouses and regular markets, Akhannouch announced, urging employees in the agricultural sector to respect the preventive measures implemented against COVID-19.
Replying to a question about the challenges facing Moroccan farmers due to drought, Akhannouch recalled the ministry’s initiative to subsidize livestock feed.
On March 24, the ministry announced its intention to distribute 2.5 million quintals of subsidized barley for farmers in the regions affected by drought.
The initiative allows farmers to purchase the subsidized barley for a fixed price of MAD 2 ($0.20) per kilogram, while the government will cover the difference with the market price.
The program would support Moroccan farmers to sell healthy livestock for Eid al-Adha without adding to the consumer prices.