Agriculture in the heatwave: the urgent need for agricultural resilience in the face of climate change

Morocco, like many other countries, is facing the growing challenges of climate change. Recently, the Kingdom has been hit by extreme weather conditions, with temperatures rising to unusually high levels. In some regions, the thermometer has climbed to unprecedented levels, reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius. This situation is having a profound effect on Moroccan agriculture, a crucial sector for the national economy.  

Indeed, Moroccan farmers, who are already grappling with the effects of climate change, are already seeing the “damage” caused by this heatwave. Crops are suffering, yields are falling and some plants are showing signs of heat stress. Farmers fear that these extreme conditions will have a major impact on the current season and their incomes.  

Another major challenge facing farmers is the shortage of new seeds. As they seek to solve plant problems by using more heat-resistant varieties, they face a shortage of seeds capable of thriving in these extreme conditions. Hence the need for ongoing agricultural research to develop climate-resilient crops.  

The effects of these worrying weather conditions are not confined to the fields, but also affect international markets. Morocco is a major exporter of fruit and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, to European markets and other parts of the world. Fluctuating weather conditions affect the quantity, quality and cost of exported agricultural produce.   

The impact of these extreme weather conditions is compounded by persistent drought. In this context, the Ministry of Equipment and Water recently announced that the filling rate of the Kingdom’s dams had reached an alarming 29.5%, as of July 27, down on previous weeks. Heat waves and lack of rain are cited as the main reasons for this drop, raising concerns about the availability of water for irrigation and crop management.  

The growth in Morocco’s tomato exports illustrates both the importance of the agricultural sector to the country’s economy and the challenges it faces. By 2022, Morocco had become the world’s third largest tomato exporter, overtaking countries such as Iran and Spain. However, this growth is accompanied by growing concerns about price fluctuations and persistent drought.  

Agricultural experts agree that heat waves and drought have a significant impact on tomato production. According to specialists contacted by us, high temperatures and lack of water cause heat stress to plants, affecting their growth, development and yield. The same applies to fruit quality and size, which can also be affected, with a negative and damaging effect on exports.  

On the other hand, they warn of the risks of fungal and bacterial diseases proliferating in hot, humid conditions, which can cause significant losses in tomato crops. They recommend effective irrigation strategies and the use of resilient cultivation techniques to mitigate the effects of the heatwave. 

 The experts highlight the complex challenges posed by the heatwave to tomato and other crop production in Morocco. They stress the importance of adapting farming practices and researching climate-resilient varieties to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the country’s agriculture.

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