The fall in vegetable prices in the Moroccan kingdom was conditioned by the cut in its continental exports; a decision that could cost the country dear as it tries to restore balance to the domestic market and maintain its position as an important supplier

Drop in vegetable prices in Morocco as a result of the cut in its exports to Africa

Mercado de verduras en las afueras de Casablanca - REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDDAL
Vegetable market on the outskirts of Casablanca - REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDDAL

As part of the measures being taken by Aziz Akhannouch's government to balance the domestic market and stem the wave of price hikes the country is experiencing, Morocco has decided to halt exports of certain vegetables to African countries in order to ensure the market's self-sufficiency in terms of essential foodstuffs. 

  1. Export cutback lowers vegetable prices   
  2. Tariff price increases  
  3. The dilemma of exports and domestic demand   
  4. Protective measures and preventive decisions 

Export cutback lowers vegetable prices   

As a result of the export cutback, weekly and popular markets this week recorded a significant drop in the prices of vegetables, especially tomatoes (from 15 to 6 dirhams/kg), potatoes (from 10 to 4 or 3 dirhams/kg) and onions.

In addition to this significant drop in prices, the move to reduce exports to Mauritania and African states meant that the vegetables available in all Moroccan cities are of high quality.

Tariff price increases  

The suspension of vegetable exports is due not only to the need to balance the domestic market, but also to the imposition of very high tariffs on Moroccan products destined for Africa by Mauritanian customs, as an immediate response to the reduction of Moroccan exports to the Mauritanian market.

With this reduction in exports, Morocco is seeking, firstly, to respond to domestic demand for vegetables, and secondly, to protect the purchasing power of Moroccan citizens by lowering prices.

Since all the trucks pass through Mauritania, via the Guerguerat border crossing, before completing their journey to the importing African country, the Mauritanian authorities decided, in effect, to raise the tariff on each truck from 28,000 dirhams to approximately 60,000 dirhams.

The move angered many Mauritanian and African importers and they requested that exports be temporarily halted pending clarification of the overall picture of these vital operations for Mauritania. 

Los argelinos compran verduras en un mercado abierto en la capital, Argel, el 15 de septiembre de 2022 - PHOTO/AFP
Algerians shop for vegetables at an open market in the capital Algiers September 15, 2022 - PHOTO/AFP

The dilemma of exports and domestic demand   

The export cut is not a new step, but was taken by the Moroccan government last year, in February 2023, in an attempt to rebalance the domestic market. For this reason, Morocco had banned the export of some vegetables to ensure the needs of the domestic market, given the wave of rising prices for most food products.

As a firm measure, the Moroccan state is forcing exporters to prioritise the domestic market, which will stabilise the prices of food products, especially before Ramadan.

In this regard, the government also decided to ease import tariffs on cows to encourage importers to supply the domestic red meat market, with the aim of counteracting an increase in prices exceeding 100 dirhams per kilogramme. 

Imagen de supermercado - PHOTO/FILE
Supermarket image - PHOTO/FILE

Protective measures and preventive decisions 

According to economic experts, stopping the export of vegetables and fruits to Africa does help to normalise prices, as exports to Africa compete with domestic demand in the country.

However, exports to Europe do not affect the domestic market because they meet a number of criteria and contribute to bringing foreign currency into Morocco. They meet the required standards, in the sense that not all vegetables and fruit are exported to Europe. This is not the case for exports to Africa; they compete with the domestic market, especially when it comes to tomatoes, potatoes and other basic vegetables.

It is worth noting that only 18% of vegetables and fruits are export-oriented, while 78% are for domestic consumption, while 4% are for the food industries.

In order to protect Morocco's interests, economic specialists see that it must not lose its position in the Mauritanian market, which needs the supply of some agricultural products to meet its domestic demand with essential imported foodstuffs and to control price increases.

The North African country faces a real dilemma if it is not to lose its position in the African market as a major supplier, while at the same time not harming Moroccans' purchasing power.

Faced with this problem, it is recommended to increase domestic production to meet the needs of Moroccan consumers, on the one hand, and to have a proportion destined for foreign export in order to maintain the durability and continued presence of the Moroccan product on the African market, on the other.

Only in this way can Morocco maintain its economic presence on the continent and strengthen its vision as an ambitious country in search of sustainability and the well-being of its citizens.