Morocco works on ‘digital transformation’ of agriculture

The digital transformation in agriculture would improve the sector’s appeal and open employment opportunities for young people.
Sunday 26/05/2019
A Moroccan farmer checks an olive tree at a field in Meknes (AFP)
Significant potential. A Moroccan farmer checks an olive tree at a field in Meknes. (AFP)

RABAT - The Moroccan government is coordinating efforts with partners around the world to digitise the agricultural sector to increase crop production and cope with a drought that has affected the country in recent years.

In a forum in Meknes under the theme “Digital Transformation for a Promising Agricultural Sector Providing Employment for Rural Youth,” Moroccan Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said digitisation was a means for achieving sustainable development.

Despite Morocco’s success in the digital transformation in the agricultural field it is still at the beginning of the road.

“We are determined to meet the challenge of digitisation for a modern, competitive, comprehensive and sustainable agriculture with our potential and resources to achieve this goal,” said Akhannouch.

Agriculture is an essential component of the local economy and officials in charge of the strategic sector are keen to use technological development to improve the agricultural and food production chain.

Akhannouch said that Morocco has “the potential to become an important centre in the digitisation of agriculture, given the infrastructure of high-performance communications and access to information and data thanks to the Mohammed VI satellites.”

The digital transformation in agriculture would improve the sector’s appeal and open employment opportunities for young people in a job market that has become more dependent on technology.

During the 14th session of the International Agricultural Fair, Akhannouch said that top international companies have improved performance, especially in focused agriculture, so that “today we are talking about digital farms that can be managed and monitored remotely.”

Sixty countries participated in this year’s fair plus there was a special pavilion for the United Nations. Organisers said the meeting has gained a reputation as the top agriculture fair in Africa and one of the most important agricultural events in the world.

Mohamed Hourani, president and CEO of Hightech Payment Systems, said digitisation affects all sectors and society and that the agricultural sector should take advantage of the available technology.

Hourani said current challenges are linked to demographic growth, with the world population projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. “This means that we have to provide enough food and meet the challenge of urban sprawl that is eating up agricultural land,” he said.

To encourage young people to become involved in developing Moroccan agriculture, Akhannouch called for the creation of a bridge between youth and the agricultural sector through digitisation.

The Moroccan government aspires to create a generation of digitally savvy citizens many of whom decide on agriculture as a choice for life and work because it offers attractive opportunities.

Jean-Marc Chappuis, assistant director of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, said digitisation can help agriculture to play a key role in fighting hunger and providing better protection and sustainable use of natural resources. “Digital transformation can benefit Moroccan agriculture and small farmers through the use of innovative solutions,” he said.

As a long-time partner and investor, Switzerland has promised to help Morocco to consecrate the digitisation of agriculture, especially as it has made great strides in the processing of data and digital applications related to the sector and food industries.

Swiss investments in Morocco have exceeded $5 billion since 2014 and Swiss companies provide 9,000 direct jobs to Moroccans.

Rabat is trying to strengthen technical capacities at all levels for small and medium-sized farm owners and agricultural cooperatives, as well as small rural commercial, industrial and service enterprises.

Morocco’s Agricultural Loan Group recently signed a protocol with the French Development Agency for opening a $56 million credit line aimed at financing agricultural projects with a strong contribution to sustainable development.

The aim of the protocol is to support the Bank of Morocco’s policy of financing sustainable investments in various fields, such as sustainable irrigation techniques, renewable energies and waste management.

At the operational level, the sugar company Cosumar Group is promoting two projects to develop the sugar production chain in Morocco. One of the projects is called Taysir, which is designed to facilitate operations in sugar beet and sugar cane cultivation.