Moroccan blueberries’ surface cultivation has increased by 15 times since 2005. Now, the country is privileged for its location and political-environmental conditions that have further increased its annual yield.
In 2005, producers started growing this new berry and for the first decade, the market has seen a steady growth until 2015 when the annual production has grown exponentially.
Indeed, since then, the surface production increased by nearly 500 hectares per year. Driven by the arrival of foreign capital, which, together with experienced farmers, increased the plantations of the fruit in the region Loukos Gharb and created new cultivation areas in Agadir and Dakhla. By 2020, the country produced 35.100 tons of blueberries, representing 19 times the production it had in 2005.
Despite the small sizes of farms (80% of the farms are below 5 hectares), agrochemical companies, technologies and agricultural structures have arrived in the African country following FDI’s in Morocco.
First of all, the country’s ideal conditions near the Mediterranean sea enable cool temperatures throughout the year which further enhances the fruit’s growth and its taste. In addition, the availability of a cheap, young and qualified workforce, with extensive agricultural technical knowledge makes the country even more attractive.
Finally, unlike other countries, climate change has not yet wreaked havoc in that region. Loukos Gharb and Dakhla have the availability of water for agricultural use, while in areas where it is more scarce, such as Agadir, there is an infrastructure to irrigate the fields through desalination plants.
A “Perfect” location
The pandemic has also affected their economy but the ideal geographical location favoured its export of fresh fruit to high-value markets. “From the farm to the consumer in Europe it takes us 4 days, to Russia 6 days”, stated Mr. Bennani of the AMPFR in the Blue magazine.
The growth of blueberries in Morocco boosted the export of fresh fruit over frozen ones. The quality of its fruit gained ground in the European market, which receives nearly 90% of its production, with its main destinations being Spain, England, the Netherlands, Germany and France.
Its geo-location also gives advantages to reaching markets such as North America and Asia by transporting fresh and frozen produce. This segment has been severely affected by the pandemic, since, after the closure of the airspace, blueberry cargoes could not be dispatched from the Casablanca airport to other north American Asian markets
Trade agreements with the EU, Turkey, US and UAE also enabled to further bolster the market in the country as it opens new markets that would otherwise be unattainable.
Large-capacity ports, extensive highways, water infrastructure and tax benefits are part of the socio-political context that has promoted the Kingdom of Morocco for the development of agribusiness in the country.
In addition, the production of berries is associated with the Interproberry Federation, which in turn promotes the production of Moroccan red fruits through the Moroccan Association of Producers of Red Fruits (AMPFR) and in the valorization of the export product with the Moroccan Association. of packers-exporters (AMCEF).
The country has 1800 kilometres of highway and one of the largest ports in Africa, Tanger-Med, near Agadir. Added to these benefits is the exception of the collection of taxes on agricultural supplies.