The more expensive tomato: explanations from exporting producers

Morocco produces an annual average of 3 million tons of tomatoes, of which nearly 400,000 tons are intended for the local market.

Scarcity of water resources, soaring prices of agricultural inputs, cold spell, multiplication of intermediaries, increase in foreign demand… The tomato has every reason to be expensive. The government assures the consumer of sufficient quantities to supply the market on the eve of Ramadan, but the price continues to soar. In the Souss, one of the largest production basins in the country, the price on the wholesale market varies between 5 and 7 dirhams per kilo. Explanations from FIFEL.

We only talk about her on the eve of Ramadan! The tomato does not blush and lets its prices soar. The latter are currently experiencing increases deemed exceptional. According to the president of the Moroccan Interprofessional Federation for the Production and Export of Fruits and Vegetables (FIFEL), Lahoucine Aderdour, this fruit is now trading between 5 and 7 dirhams per kilogram on the wholesale markets. On the stalls, the consumer buys it between 10 and 12 dirhams per kilo.
For the president of FIFEL, the increase observed this year is exceptional due possibly to several factors. First, the scarcity of water resources which has compromised part of the production. “You should know that some producers have reached forages up to 400 meters deep to seek water and save their crops. But in vain. Results, harvests went up in smoke for lack of water, and this in the middle of the countryside, ”he explains. This problem related to irrigation water is hard experienced by small and medium-sized producers who normally ensure the supply of the national market.

Then, continue Aderdour, a large part of the exporting producers has engaged this year exclusively in the production of cherry tomatoes and other similar varieties as part of their export commitments. Or, the national market is in strong demand for the round tomato. The fact is that when these producers grew the round tomato for export, they reserved part of it for the national market, ie 10%. Which is not the case this year. Added to this is the increase in production costs following the surge in input prices, particularly fertilizers. “Certain inputs that cost 5 dirhams per kilo before the crisis culminating at 20 dirhams today. When we know that tomato crops consume fertilizer daily for a question of product quality, I let you imagine the additional cost”, continues the boss of FIFEL. This situation has even prompted input suppliers to put an end to the payment facilities, hitherto granted to producers. “The farmer is therefore obliged to pay cash for his delivery. The supplier no longer supports the accumulated arrears following these facilities”, notes Aderdour. Finally, another factor behind the rise in tomato prices, the cold snap that is delaying the ripening of crops, currently in the fields.

The demand behavior under study

Remember that at the end of the last Council of Government, the spokesperson, Mustapha Baitas, had tried to reassure consumers, affirming that the production of tomatoes in Morocco is largely sufficient and that the sector does not experience any problem of availability. Baitas specified, moreover, that during this period of the year marked by a drop in temperatures, farmers resort to greenhouse production in the region of Chtouka. The program drawn up in this direction by the Department of Agriculture was applied in its entirety and the area sown respected, added the minister. Similarly, he said that the rise in the price of tomatoes was explained by the exponential increase in foreign demand and that they fell within “two days”.
For the boss of FIFEL, a relaxation on the price could occur in the days to come following the return of a milder climate. In any case, he assures, it is the demand that defines the price during the holy month of Ramadan. “The government is currently studying the behavior of demand. If he finds that it is more important, measures could thus be taken to regulate the market by acting on exports, ”announces the boss of FIFEL. For the time being, no decision to reduce shipments abroad has been taken, we assure you.
As a reminder, Morocco produces an annual average of 3 million tons of tomatoes, of which nearly 400,000 tons are intended for the local market. The main production regions are Souss, El Oualidia, El Jadida and Casablanca for early and late season crops. Most greenhouses are located on the coastline.


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