Moroccan citrus: Serious concern for export season - FreshFruitPortal.com

Serious concern for Moroccan citrus season amid water crisis

The Moroccan citrus export season has been plunged into doubt just ahead of its start after authorities limited the supply of irrigation water in one of the country's key production regions, local website Alkhaleej Today reports.

The government last Wednesday suspended the water supply for agricultural use devoted to the perimeter of Sebt El Guerdane in the Souss region in southern Morocco. The decision was taken to assure there was drinking water in Greater Agadir from the Aoulouz dam.

However, the El Guerdane perimeter is one of the main suppliers of citrus fruits in Morocco, with 250,000 metric tons (MT)of national production. This binding suspension comes a few days before the start of the citrus export campaign in the Souss region which supplies more than 580,000MT, or nearly half of national production.

Coupled with other factors such as drought and the drop in the water table for many citrus growers, this cutoff of irrigation water is described as the final blow to years of investment in this area.

The situation comes after two citrus seasons weighed down by the drop in production and the lack of market outlets.

“The situation is very critical. As professionals, we cling to the endowment mobilized for the perimeter of El Guerdane, because the consequences of this decision will be disastrous and in more than one respect," Abdellah Jrid, president of the Association of producers of citrus fruits from Morocco (Aspam), was quoted as saying.

Youssef Jebha, president of the Water Users Association Agriculture (AUEA), said that half of the perimeter spread over 10,000 hectares today depends directly on the water from the dam, "which means in the short term the signing of their death warrant".

In terms of production, apart from the extra-early varieties currently on the market, other types of clementine and orange such as late varieties reportedly may not be placed on the market, Alkhaleej Today reports. These varieties cannot be picked because of the problem of irrigation water.