Agricultural sector development strategy in African countries: Lessons from the Green Morocco Plan

Morocco's agricultural sector development strategy is a model that can work for African countries.The Green Morocco Plan.
National School of Agriculture, Morocco. Class of 2014

Morocco's agricultural sector development strategy is a model that can work for African countries.

Morocco’s agriculture is the second most developed on the continent if not number one. Being about 90% semi-arid and a leader in the agriculture sector in the continent, there is a lot that sub-Saharan Africa can learn from Morocco’s leadership in agricultural sector development strategies.

In 2008, Morocco launched the famous agricultural sector development plan dubbed the “green Morocco plan” or le Plan Maroc Ver (PMV) in French. This strategic document was going to serve as the main development road-map for the country’s agriculture sector for next 12 years, till 2020. The green morocco plan was as a result of holistic situational analysis of country’s agriculture sector that identified the main hurdles that the sector had faced in the past decades, and opportunities available to the sector in the short term, medium term and long term perspectives. And in my view, the select committee in charge of developing the green morocco plan got it right in so many ways. You will understand why as you read through.

I arrived in Morocco in the last quarter of 2008 and Morocco became my home for the next six years. My arrival coincided perfectly with the launch of the PMV and I interacted with the document, experts and stakeholders at close range because I was enrolled in one of the country's school of agriculture which was a key stakeholder.

In this short article I will not give details of the plan because you can find it on internet for detailed description, which i highly recommend. The plan clearly outlines the major challenges and potentials of the sectors, as well as every stakeholder’s responsibility to bring the strategy to realization. This includes the roles of the government, farmers, private sector, associations and cooperative among others.

How agricultural development strategy happened in Morocco:

But my most critical observations are the following:
  1. The select committee in charge of PMV had not hidden or political motivation, they worked in the best interest of the country. The multidisciplinary team objectively identified the real impediments that face the agriculture sector in Morocco. This is true because most the results achieved in the sector for the past ten years are directly associated with actions taken against the identified impediments.
  2. All the recommendations given in the report were implemented to the letter. Regional and local administrative offices we created, capital was committed and channeled to relevant stakeholders eg subsidies.
  3. Communication about the new agricultural strategic road-map was divulged to the last mile. Every stakeholder in the sector became aware of the new strategic direction and they familiarized themselves with the role they are supposed to play as well as roles of other stakeholder.
Within a span of ten years, Morocco managed to turn around the hurdles in its agricultural sector to achieve the unbelievable- met the millennium development goal on halving extreme poverty and hunger two years before the deadline and was highly applauded by the UN. Honesty and integrity of the government in addressing the real issue was the game changer.

Most interestingly was the efforts deployed by the government to popularize the strategy among farmers and other value chains stakeholders. Every farmer in Morocco came to know all nitty-gritties of  PMV. And this in my view is what lacks in most countries’ strategic initiatives. In Kenya for instances, while farmers have a huge role to play in achieving the objectives set by national agricultural strategy, most of them are not even aware of the current guiding strategy for agricultural development. 

For instance, think about president Kenyatta’s big four agenda which positioned agriculture as a priority sector for Kenya’s economic development. The big 4 agenda still remain to be an executive statement because the vision of this strategy has never been communicated clearly to all stakeholders, including subsistence farmers in marginalized rural setups.
My bottom-line lesson from Morocco is that, for Kenya’s agricultural development initiative to bear results, the government must do two things:
  1.  Objectively conduct situational analysis of our agricultural sector to uncover the impediments as well as opportunities. (most studies done in Kenya have been biased by hidden individual interests or political manipulation intentions)
  2.  Last mile popularization of the nitty-gritties of the strategy to all stakeholders in the sector up until the last farmer in the village hears about it. This must be done aggressively like a referendum or presidential campaign!
Objectivity, honesty and integrity are key in development of strategies.

Joseph Wambugu is a consultant in agribusiness,
Follow him on LinkedIn

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