By Brian Okoth
Morocco is among the world’s top three exporters of tomato as records show that Europe sources a large volume of the commodity from the North African nation.
Morocco dethroned Iran and Spain from the top spots, data by East Fruit, a website that focuses primarily on agriculture, shows.
In 2022, Morocco exhibited the “largest increase in exports in a year among all countries [in the world]”, East Fruit said in its review report.
The African nation, according to Spanish agricultural website Horto Info, exported 740,660 tonnes of tomatoes and made revenue worth $1.1 billion.
Morocco’s 2022 tomato exports increased by 17 per cent from the previous year to break into the top three, behind the Netherlands and Mexico only.
In 2021, the African country was ranked position five in the world in tomato exports. The United Kingdom and France are Morocco’s high-value markets.
The four leading tomato producers – Mexico, the Netherlands, Morocco and Spain – accounted for 60.03 per cent of the world’s total tomato exports, according to Horto Info.
Mexico, the topmost producer of the crop, exported 1.96 million tonnes of tomatoes in 2022 worth $2.85 billion.
Morocco’s progress in the global market has been commendable over the last decade.
In 2013, for instance, Spain exported 1.03 million tonnes of tomatoes, while Morocco shipped out 457,930 tonnes of the crop.
That gap has reduced significantly over the years, with Morocco exporting 661,510 tonnes in 2021, and Spain sending overseas some 662,490 tonnes. Morocco eventually overtook Spain in 2022.
Camille Sari, a Moroccan Professor of Economics at Paris-based University, Sorbonne, says Morocco’s impressive tomato figures are a consequence of proper planning and practical agricultural policies.
“The country has invested in infrastructure that favours large-scale tomato farming,” he told TRT Afrika.
“The Moroccan government has constructed several dams, which help in irrigation during the dry season. At the same time, the State has invested in water-saving technology to facilitate production all year round. Morocco’s policies on climate change have also come in handy to conserve its natural resources.”
High electricity costs in the Netherlands, a leading tomato producer, have pushed up the cost of production in the country, consequently placing Morocco at a position of advantage in the global market.
During the Ramadan season between March and April 2023, the Moroccan government imposed a partial ban on tomato exports to address a shortage in the local market.
During the Holy Month, there is usually a surge in demand for the produce.
The tomato exports globally raised a total of $10.96 billion in revenue in 2022, data by Horto Info shows.