Topic: New geographies of agricultural production in Morocco
Keywords: Digital agriculture, Productivity and sustainability, capital, Plan Maroc Vert, Morocco
Over the last few decades, transformations in the Moroccan agricultural sector have been shaped by changes in the land tenure structure and the Plan Maroc Vert (PMV) – a 15-year plan aiming to boost the agricultural sector. Launched in 2008, the PMV offers a new vision for Morocco’s agriculture by promoting the development of a modern, sustainable, and productivist sector. The actions are divided in two groups: the first pillar – a capitalist-oriented agricultural production based on an extensive yet ecological approach to land and resources – urges private investors to enter the sector supported by public funding via a new spectrum of subsidies. The second pillar, defined by family farming, targets an amelioration of farming techniques and practices, and aims to increase production levels and efficiency. This (particularly when it comes to the first pillar) has encouraged a diversity in “new farm-investors” to enter the sector, bringing with them new logics and rationales for farming. The development of a greater range of crops and farming techniques goes hand in hand with the adoption of new technologies such as sensors and drones. In this article, I use the experience, practices, and aspirations of “new farminvestors” to describe and discuss current agrarian dynamics in Morocco. Based on empirical data, I highlight the mechanisms and processes at play through which digital agriculture is implemented, in an effort to explain how the future vision for farming and sustainability concerns are articulated on the ground. At the same time, I focus on the convergences and intersections between environmental and agrarian policies, to demonstrate how the future vision for farming and sustainability are deeply contradictory. My analysis shows the role of the PMV and its vision for fostering an increased intersection between farming and technology. The shifting agricultural savoir-faire toward big-data, precision agriculture, and digital farming is increasingly identified as an important tool for improving efficiency and productivity in agricultural production. I argue that the increasing popularisation of agricultural investment is changing perceptions of nature, and reshaping the agrarian community and agrarian spaces, while being characterized by an unequal access to resources and knowledge. In parallel, new geographies of agricultural production are rewriting the agrarian history of Morocco where
capital and finance play an important role.