Genesis Morocco: Algeria, Morocco boost agricultural collaboration

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011    <<Home

Algeria, Morocco boost agricultural collaboration

Personal Notes : Bilateral relations between Morocco and Algeria are starting to make sense. On March 28, I have covered earlier on in this blog the potential for Morocco and Algeria to collaborate on the fronts of renewable energy, water and food autonomy in a post untitled Algeria, Morocco and the energy, food and water security of the region. Realpolitiks. I'm glad to see things moving forward in that direction.

To put things simply, Algeria should be our first export destination for our agricultural exports, that is other then food crops such as wheat as we still rely on imports ourselves, see post untitled 300 000 tons too many

Why ? because we are bordering countries, one that has a strong agriculture, that is Morocco, and one that imports lots of food stuffs, Algeria. Trade is always the strongest between bordering countries and that is the rule for all bordering countries, and there is no reason why Morocco and Algeria would be exceptions, no reason at all as a matter of fact except for murky politics which we cannot, must not, in the general prevailing context of the Arab spring, either perpetuate or sustain. They have to be put aside for the good of both countries.

Morocco needs investments for its agricultural sector ? Algeria has billions of foreign currency reserves, sitting in bank accounts. They can be invested here, in return Algeria benefits from its privileged relationship with Morocco that is de facto, like it or not, the agricultural powerhouse of Northern Africa. Can Algeria do without Morocco ? No it cant, it would be shortsighted to put politics above sound economics. Can Morocco overlook Algeria's oil and gas based deep wallet as a possible engine for its growth ? No it cant, not in a global recession context.

Will it materialize ? Signs are that it will, it makes no sense to do otherwise. UMA, the Union of the Arab Maghreb has to lift off, on the agriculture, water and renewable energy fronts, all pressing issues for its members. Much time has been wasted already. Time to get down to business.

[AFP/Abdelhak Senna] Algerian Agriculture Minister Rachid Benaissa (right) signed a co-operation agreement with his Moroccan counterpart Aziz Akhannouch in Rabat last April.

By Fidet Mansour for Magharebia in Algiers

The accords covered a variety of issues ranging from beekeeping to work with the Filaha Inov Foundation, which organised the annual Algiers agricultural expo where Morocco was a guest of honour.

In the latest indication of warming ties between Algeria and Morocco, the two Maghreb neighbours signed a series of agricultural co-operation agreements last Wednesday (November 23rd) in Algiers.

“The signing of these agreements marks the beginning of a co-operation process which we want to be strong,” commented Algerian Agriculture Minister Rachid Benaissa. He added that the presence of 150 high-level Moroccan business figures was a sign of “shared interest in building strong relations between our two countries”.

“We are consolidating a process that has been under way since the beginning of this year,” Benaissa said, referring to the April Morocco-Algeria agricultural accord.

In a press statement, Moroccan Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch highlighted the fact that his country’s participation in the trade fair was part of a process that the two sides have developed together. “The contact that will be made during this event will make it possible to step up exchanges with a view to feeding our region more successfully,” he added.

The experiences of the two Maghreb states was discussed in depth at the Algerian-Moroccan Forum on Agriculture, Agri-Food and Rural Development, which was held on the side-lines of the trade fair and attracted 150 Moroccan businessmen.

Algerian agriculture ministry official Sid Ahmed Ferrouckhi discussed the “Agricultural and Rural Renewal Policy” launched in 2000. The various agricultural development plans implemented as part of this policy have increased agricultural output by a factor of 4.5 to date.

“Over the 2010-2014 five-year period, Algeria will spend 3 billion dollars a year on supporting programmes to develop the agricultural and rural sector,” he said.

The Green Morocco Plan, which was implemented in 2008, “is intended to make agriculture a real driving-force for growth over the next 15 years by doubling agricultural GDP, which is currently estimated at $12 billion”. Morocco also plans to increase its agricultural exports to $8 billion in 2020, experts at the forum said.

The main challenge for Moroccan agriculture is investment, according to conference attendees. Agriculture in Morocco is developing steadily, however.

These statements drew plenty of reactions from the Algerian press. Mohamed Touati, an expert on Algerian-Moroccan relations, commented that the two sides were “demonstrating their desire to sit down at the same table to patch up their differences”. He said the attendance of 150 high-level Moroccan business figures was “a sign of the shared interest in building strong relations between our two countries”.

“A bit like ploughing that goes promisingly, the machine intended to thaw relations that have been strained for far too long has been switched on. And as long as no grains of sand cause the machine to seize up, the harvest will be fruitful indeed,” he concluded.

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