Tapping into Al-Andaluz resources

Opportunities and challenges for investment in Morocco

Authored by: Nora Van Cauwenbergh , Samira Idllalene

Handbook of Land and Water Grabs in Africa

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781857436693
eBook ISBN: 9780203110942
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203110942-14

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Abstract

Morocco has recently become an important emerging economy, making it an attractive destination for European and global investors looking to create new opportunities for growth. Market liberalisation initiated by King Mohamed VI has changed the investment conditions dramatically over the last decade or so, with yet greater reforms anticipated. Agriculture is one of the sectors that has seen a marked transformation by the new development stimulus. A watershed moment in creating a more export-oriented agricultural sector was the launch in 2008 of the Green Morocco Plan (GMP), which seeks to increase land productivity and overall farm output by modernising what was deemed an inefficient traditional agriculture. In order to fund such a modernisation project that will exploit what opportunities are available in this arid land for export revenue, it was necessary to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to allow for a transformation in both the technology and the operations of farm business. Public and private landholders across the country are leasing land to a growing number of foreign enterprises, which is gradually transforming the country’s economy. While the presence of European enterprise and capital dates back to the colonial era, European interest had only a minor recovery during the 1990s after the process of decolonisation. The more recent developments are different, both in terms of the origin of funds and in the scale of investment. European enterprise and also the Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) governments and large global investment funds are leasing vast agricultural areas for the production of export crops. This has led to the accumulation of export produce in the hands of increasingly powerful elites and large agribusiness players, and though there are some benefits to the population of this economic development there are also great costs associated with increased pressure on its soil and water resources.

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