Morocco says aims to quadruple farmland leases by 2020

Published: 24 Feb 2014
The Moroccan government says it will hold regular tenders as suitable state farmland is gradually identified and made available. About 40,000 hectares may be offered in 2014. The target is 500,000 hectares by 2020, nearly four times the current level.
 PARIS, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Morocco aims to increase fourfold the amount of state-owned land it leases to farmers and investors, to increase production and speed up modernisation of Moroccan farming, the director of agricultural development said.
To attract private investors, the kingdom has been leasing farmland for 20 to 50 percent of its market value in long-term contracts of up to 40 years, Mohammed El Guerrouj said.
“We are in the process of making available all the farmland we can,” El Guerrouj told Reuters in an interview at the annual Paris farm show. “It’s then up to the investors to propose farming projects.”
Like other North African countries, Morocco relies on imports of staple cereals. It is trying to modernise its farms to improve food security and avert the kind of price rises that contributed to popular unrest in Arab countries in 2011.
Some 105,000 hectares of state-owned farmland was leased in past decades for projects that represent a total of 2.6 billion euros in investments, El Guerrouj said. The new leases will go through tenders open to domestic and foreign investors.
So far, more than half of the leases have gone to operators from France, Spain and Italy. Gulf states account for only about 3 percent, El Gerrouj said….


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