Officials said they expect seven percent growth in the country's Gross National Product (GNP) next year, if, as forecast, there is at least average agricultural output.
But if Morocco faces a continuation of its current drought, the economic
slowdown that has plagued the country for the past several years is likely
to continue, government officials admit.
GNP growth rate was expected to be under 1 per cent in 2000 due to the severe drought, according to Agriculture Minister Habib Malki.
Morocco's economy remains largely dependent on agriculture, which contributes 20 per cent to the GNP and employs half of the 10-million person workforce.
Droughts have plagued the country hard in recent years, also dealing a serious blow to the nation's economy.
In 1996, with rain abundant and agriculture production strong, Morocco
posted a 12 per cent GNP growth, one of the highest in the world that year.
However, two successive dry seasons in 1998 and 1999 badly impacted the economy and growth did not exceed 1 per cent in either year.
Morocco is trying to devise a strategy that ease its dependency on weather
conditions, largely based on the use of advanced irrigation techniques.
"Based on a study of the weather conditions in the country over
the past ten years, we have come to the conclusion
that drought is a structural problem,” Malki said.
The minister said his ministry and the government as would spearhead a drive
to adapt the Moroccan agricultural sector to the region's varying weather
Despite recurrent drought, Morocco is not a poor
country in terms of water. It has several large rivers
that need to be better exploited to spare the country
the side effects of the shortage of rain. Morocco
built over the past 40 years scores of dams with the
prime objective to irrigate over 1 million hectares of
arable land, according to agriculture ministry figures.
A largely agricultural country, with 51 per cent of
its 28 million population living in the country-side,
Morocco has not yet managed to achieve a food
self-sufficiency. Agriculture covers only 50 per cent
of Morocco's needs in food and the other 50 per cent
is imported, according to the ministry. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )