Morocco is an African nation situated on the continent's northern edge and covers an area of 172,414 square miles. Morocco has one of the most developed economies in Africa. The Moroccan economy is thought to be relatively liberal and is highly dependent on the country's natural resources which include fish, arable land, spectacular natural landscapes, and its vast phosphate reserves among others.
The Moroccan government estimated that arable land covered an area of 33,000 square miles of the country's area. Approximately 14% of the arable land in Morocco can be irrigated. Some of Morocco's most productive agricultural land is situated in the country's northwestern section. Because of the vast size of arable land in Morocco, it is considered to have great agricultural potential. The Moroccan government believes that if the country's arable land is properly utilized Morocco can achieve self-sufficiency in food production. In 2014, the Moroccan labor department estimated that about 39% of the Moroccan labor force was employed in the country's agriculture sector. The Moroccan government estimated that in 2017, the agriculture sector contributed approximately 15% of the country's GDP. Some of the most important crops grown in Morocco include wheat, olives, and grapes. Morocco's agrarian sector faces several significant challenges with droughts being the major one. Morocco experienced a severe drought in 1995 that adversely affected the country's agriculture industry, and the state was subsequently forced to import cereals to feed the citizens. Morocco also experienced significant droughts in 1997 and 1999.
Moroccan farmers grow several varieties of grapes such as the Carignan, Grenache, and Cinsaut. In the past, most Moroccan farmers grew Carignan; however, its popularity declined. The Moroccan government estimated that in 2005, Cinsaut accounted for approximately 40% of the grapes grown in the country. In recent times, Moroccan farmers have begun experimenting with several grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Morocco has five distinct grape-growing areas which are further subdivided into 14 distinct regions. During the 1990s, the Moroccan government sought the help of the French to improve the country's wine industry. The project was relatively successful and in 2014 the Moroccan government estimated that the country produced 400,000 hectoliters of wine. The wine industry is a significant employer in Morocco and the country's labor department estimated that the industry employed about 20,000 people. Most of the wine produced in Morocco is consumed locally with some being exported to European nations such as France.
Farmers in Morocco keep different animals such as camels, pigs, and cattle. The Moroccan government estimated that in 2001 the country was home to more than 17 million sheep and 5 million cows. The government of Morocco further estimated that in the same year the country produced 150,000 tons of beef and mutton as well as 1 million tons of milk. During the 20th century, most cattle farmers in Morocco switched from pastoral systems to zero-grazing. They also adopted more exotic breeds to increase their production and keep poultry. In 2001, the government estimated that the country was home to more than 137 million hens. The Moroccan poultry industry produced about 235,000 tons of eggs. Drought is one of the major challenges facing the Moroccan livestock industry and it reduces the amount of feed available for the animals. The Moroccan government urged livestock farmers to grow fodder crops to ensure a constant supply of feed for their animals particularly during droughts.
Morocco's natural landscapes are one of its most important natural resources. The country has dunes, beaches, and mountains. Morocco had the Atlas Mountain Range situated in the country's western edge. Mountains in this range are home to a variety of wildlife such as the Barbary sheep, Cuvier's gazelle, and Barbary stags. There are several popular beaches in Morocco such as Legzira Beach, La Source Beach and Moulay Bouzerktoun. Other popular sites in Morocco include cities such as Fez and Marrakech both of which have been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tourism industry is Morocco's most important industry as it earns the country large sums of foreign exchange. In 2017, the Moroccan government estimated that almost 10.3 million tourists visited the country which was an increase of about 1.5% from the number of tourists who visited the country the previous year. Nearly 30% of the tourists who visited Morocco in that year were Moroccans living abroad. Other tourists who visited Morocco were from countries such as Spain and Algeria. Several companies have invested in Morocco's tourism industry by setting up hotels and resorts to cater to the large number of tourists who visit the country.
Morocco has been blessed with different types of minerals which include phosphate, iron ore, and lead among others. Morocco's phosphate reserves are believed to account for almost 75% of all the phosphate reserves globally. Despite having the largest phosphate reserves in the world, Morocco was ranked as the second-largest producer of phosphates behind China in 2015. One of the most important phosphate mines in Morocco is Bou Craa which accounted for 10% of the country's production in 2011. The mining sector is one of Morocco's essential industries and it accounted for nearly 35% of the country's exports in 2011 as well as 5% of the country’s GDP. It is believed that Morocco's mineral industry will continue to grow due to several measures put in place by the country's government. Despite the projected growth, Morocco's mineral sector still faces several major challenges such as the fluctuating prices of phosphate in the global market.
Morocco's fish reserves are one of the country’s crucial natural resources. Some of the fish species found in Morocco's territorial waters include carp, black bass, and trout. The fishing sector is one of Morocco's most important industries and it accounts for about 16% of the country's exports. In 2009, the Moroccan government unveiled a plan to reform the fishing industry which was expected to increase the jobs in the sector from 61,000 to almost 115,000.
Challenges Facing The Moroccan Economy
One of the significant challenges that face the Moroccan economy is the country's high unemployment rates that stand at 9.3% as of 2017. The Moroccan government has invested in creating jobs to reduce the country's unemployment rate and grow the country's economy.