Morocco’s avocado industry thrives despite water and market challenges

Morocco has emerged as a major player in the global avocado market, thanks to its ideal climate and the fruit’s high demand and price. However, the industry also faces serious threats from water scarcity and market competition, which could jeopardize its future.

Morocco’s avocado exports have increased year on year, reaching 60,000 tons in the current season, according to Abdellah Elyamlahi, President of the Moroccan Association of Avocado Exporters. The country exports almost all of its harvest, mainly to European countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Russia.

The Hass variety, which accounts for about 80% of Morocco’s avocado trees, is the most popular and profitable among consumers and growers. Mohamed Lakchouch, who owns a 10-hectare avocado farm in Larache, northwestern Morocco, says he has seen a 30% rise in Hass avocado production over the past three years, reaching 90 tons this year.

However, avocados are also very water-intensive crops, requiring up to 30 liters per hour for each tree. Morocco has been facing a severe drought in recent years, which has reduced its water resources and affected its agricultural sector. To cope with water consumption, Lakchouch’s farm uses an irrigation system with sensors to optimize water usage.

Elyamlahi stresses the importance of water reserves in northern regions, where most of the avocado farms are located, for sustaining the industry. He says that despite the drought, northern Morocco’s water resources have supported avocado cultivation, demonstrating the resilience of the country’s avocado industry.

However, water scarcity is not the only challenge facing Morocco’s avocado boom. This year, the industry has encountered difficulties in exporting its produce, due to the smaller size of the avocados. Elyamlahi explains that smaller-sized avocados face more competition in international markets, where larger fruits are preferred. As a result, two-thirds of this year’s harvest remain without a destination, forcing several export units to close.

Elyamlahi acknowledges the real dangers facing the industry, and calls for strategic measures to address the accumulation of avocados and prevent negative consequences such as price reductions and export difficulties. He also urges the state to regulate the cultivation of avocados in regions with abundant water resources, to avoid encroaching on water-scarce areas.

Morocco’s avocado industry has shown remarkable growth and resilience, but it also faces serious threats from water and market challenges. The country needs to find a balance between satisfying the demand for avocados and preserving its water resources and environment.


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