Moroccans grapple with severe food crisis, gov't suspends export
"They are starving us so we would be too busy to speak up," Amine, a 32-year-old Moroccan father of two kids, told The New Arab.
The young Moroccan, who works as a construction worker for less than 20 dollars a day, is unable to afford vegetables and fruits for his family for the last week as prices skyrocketed by 50%.
Touring the local market of Temara, near Rabat, many like Amine are angry, devastated and disappointed by the high prices. Many said they resort to buying discounted almost-rotten vegetables, yet even those goods have become pricey.
The minimum wage in Morocco is less than US$200. Four average potatoes cost at least one dollar, which has placed this product out of reach for many Moroccan families.
Meanwhile, vendors of fruits stand around, watching their products go rotten as most buyers walk away as soon as they hear the new prices.
"I did not make any money this week. May god help everyone. People are in a crisis so fruits now is a luxury," Hamid, a fruit vendor in Temara, remarked to TNA.
Many other fruit vendors lay on their empty stands after coming back empty-handed from the wholesale market.
"Everything is so expensive in the wholesale market. We are once again living Aam El Boune," Mouhssine, a fruit vendor, told the TNA before continuing to curse the state and the government in a tense conversation with other vendors and buyers.
"Aam El Boune", was a severe famine that lasted for around three years during the Second World War, as France, Morocco's coloniser at the time, confiscated all crops in Morocco and reportedly starved 200,000 people to death.
Many vendors and buyers are likening the current crisis to the infamous famine. "The Moroccan government is the one to blame this time. They are exporting everything to Europe," Moussine said.
Over the weekend, dozens of Moroccans took to the streets in Casablanca blaming the increasing food prices on Moroccan Prime minister Aziz Akhannouch, the controversial tycoon who has been grappling with growing public opposition since his election two years ago.
As Akhannouch has yet to speak on the crisis, his cabinet blamed the prices on a third party: the broker's lobby.
In a recent interview with local media outlet Hespress, Moroccan Minister of Agriculture Mohammed Sadikki admitted that drought and the international gas crisis slightly increased prices of goods, "though there are irregular lobbies of brokers that buy from farmers and then sell by high prices," he added.
The ministry has also suspended the export of potatoes, onions and tomatoes to other African countries.
Meanwhile, no information was officially shared about Morocco's exports to its key trade partner, the European Union. Total trade in goods between the EU and Morocco in 2020 amounted to €35.3 billion.
A source told the TNA that despite the recent 'bad blood' between the EU bloc and Rabat, their economic partnership is still "as strong as it was."
Moroccans are set to take the streets on next Monday, 20 February, the twelve anniversary of Morocco's version of the 2011 Arab uprisings, when the kingdom's several factions united in an attempt to overthrow autocracy and achieve social justice.