Morocco is located at the northwestern tip of the African continent, having both Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea coastlines. Its population is over 32 million, and the capital city is Rabat. Both Arabic and French languages are spoken. The country’s topography is mostly mountainous. The climate of Morocco is arid, with cold winters and long, hot summers, with occasional sandstorms. Rainfall is higher in the north as compared to the southern areas.
Morocco is administratively divided into 16 regions. The regions are sub-divided into 62 prefectures and provinces. The mostly coastal fishery industry is the important pillar of the country’s economy. Phosphates and phosphorus also constitute a key economic sub-sector. Forests cover about 12 percent of the total surface area.
Morocco has both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. The coastal plains are the most suitable areas for agricultural activities. Subsistence farming on small plots of less than 5 hectares is most common. The food crops grown include wheat, barley, potatoes and tomatoes. Tomatoes and some other vegetables are exported. Sugar beets, sugarcane and cotton are the main industrial crops. Oranges, olives, grapes, and dates are also grown. Farmers cultivate cannabis (hashish) over a large area where the poor soil quality does not allow profitable cultivation of alternate crops. The government has been trying to eliminate the cannabis crop under the United Nations pressure.
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)
Total economically active population
Total economically active population in agriculture
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of
total economically active population in agriculture)
Sources: The World Bank
History of Extension and the Enabling Environment
The launching of the First Plowing Operation in 1957 is considered as the start of formal extension service in Morocco. It was followed by the Fertilizer Operation in 1965. Extension for women was introduced in 1980. Later, in 1983, the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension was implemented under a World Bank financed project. In addition, the Support Project for Agricultural Development (PSDA), also financed by the World Bank, provided valuable support for strengthening agricultural extension services at all levels. The Teaching, Research and Development Directorate, which later became the Research, Training and Education Directorate (DEFR), was established in 2010. Presently, Morocco has decentralized extension services.
Some of the constraints in the extension system identified in a Morocco Country Paper (2010) are as follows:
- Although the Extension Centers (CT) play an important role in technology transfer, their poor physical condition, non-clarity and inadequate relationship of the staff with their regional and national level managers, and the transfer of some of their functions to other institutions have adversely affected the process of dissemination of improved technologies thus restricting proper agricultural development.
- There is no joint program planning between research and extension.
- The working relationship among the institutions of research, extension and education is very weak.
- Insufficient and irregular budgets and administrative procedures are not based on the field requirements and realities.
- Several departments are technically weak, and there is little coordination among various actors involved in development efforts in rural areas.
- Farmers have been marginalized in the extension strategy.
The government launched the Green Morocco Plan in 2008, which underlines the agriculture sector as the driving force of economic and social growth. The focus for agricultural research and extension is being shifted from supply-driven to demand-driven approach. The new agricultural strategy aims at modernizing the agricultural sector for successfully competing in the worldwide market, enriching the value chain, emphasizing human development along with agricultural development, sustainable management of natural resources, and the formulation of pro-growth policies.
Some of the multi-lateral donors, which have provided financial and technical assistance to Morocco in strengthening its agricultural institutions include the World Bank (a new project, Morocco Social and Integrated Agriculture, is expected to start in 2013 or so), African Development Bank (AfDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD-Livestock and Pasture Development Project), European Union (EU), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-conducted case study on Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development in 2005; Virtual Extension Research Communication Network (VERCON); Pest Control in Small Ruminants; Management of Red Palm Weevil, and the Arab Fund. Some of the bilateral donor countries that have assisted Morocco include France, USA, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
A new project on developing a German-Moroccan Excellence Center for Agriculture is going to start in Morocco in 2013. It is a public-private partnership project, financed under the Economic Cooperation Program of the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV), in collaboration with several public and private partners. The planned excellence center will be a facility where agricultural producers, farmers and their organizations, extension staff and other partners in the agricultural value chain would be able to obtain information on modern agricultural technology and cultivation methods.
In 2011, Morocco and Algeria signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the field of agricultural and rural development with the objective of boosting agricultural production in the Maghreb. One of the signed agreements focuses on agricultural extension.
Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services
Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Maritime Fisheries
Agricultural extension services in Morocco are almost entirely public. Although several directorates of the Ministry are involved in various types of extension activities, the formal responsibility for agricultural extension lies with the Research, Training and Education Directorate (DEFR). This responsibility is carried out by the DFER’s Division of Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (DVA). The DVA’s mission is as follows:
- To establish a national agricultural extension system that is capable of simultaneous integration into the national agricultural strategic priorities and rural development.
- To disseminate new technologies of crop and animal production for sustainable development.
- To coordinate extension activities through the decentralized mechanism and to develop knowledge of rural needs and environment.
Specific activities carried out by the DVA include the following:
- Ensuring continuous training of extension workers.
- Conducting studies aimed at improving the impact of extension services.
- Presenting the general orientation regarding extension.
- Following up and evaluating the extension programs run by the Extension Centers and the Centers of Agricultural Development (CT/CDA).
- Improving the capacity of the Extension Centers as frontline offices.
- Formulating and implementing extension projects and the extension component of other development projects.
- Developing audio-visual extension materials and communication channels.
National Center of Studies and Research in Agricultural Extension (CNERV)
The CNERV is located at Meknes. Its main function is to provide support to various extension programs.
National Committee of Technology Transfer
The National Committee of Technology Transfer is a coordination body. It comprises representatives of the Research, Training and Education Directorate, Crop Production Directorate, Rural Machinery Administration, Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), and National Administration School of Morocco (ENAM).
Regional and provincial extension offices
At the regional level, Regional Offices for Agricultural Development (ORMVA) are responsible for agricultural extension and training activities.
- At the provincial level, Provincial Extension Offices are responsible for extension services. They also provide necessary support to the technical institutions involved in agricultural production in their respective provinces.
- Regional Committees of Technology Transfer exist in all regions, representing the National Committee of Technology Transfer. Representatives of these committees come from various regional development offices and technical institutions like DPA, and ORMVA that are responsible for education, research, and some other functions.
- Regional Centers of Agricultural Improvement (CREPA)
There are seven Regional Centers of Agricultural Improvement, established for providing training especially to young farmers. The centers are equipped with necessary staff and physical facilities. Training resource persons are drawn from various technical and academic institutions like the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (IAV Hassan II), and National Administration School of Morocco (ENAM).
Local level Extension Offices
- In rain-fed areas: There are in total 122 front-line Extension Centers (CT), administratively under the DPA. The CTs are responsible for executing the development programs, earlier identified with the participation of farmers and launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Maritime Fisheries. Each CT is divided into sections for agricultural extension; cooperatives, credit and agricultural investment; benefits; and administration and management.
- In irrigated areas: There are in total 185 Development Centers (CMV) and Centers of Agricultural Development (CDA), which are front-line institutions under the ORMVA for providing agricultural extension support to various development activities. The geographical area covered by the CMV and CDA is far less than that covered by the CT. There also exists a sub-division that supervises several CMV and/or CDA located in each irrigation district.
National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA)
The National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) was the first autonomous public research institution established in Morocco in 1962. INRA does not provide direct extension services to the farmers. However, it plays a key role in generating new agricultural technologies and transferring them in collaboration with Extension Centers, ORMVA, Provincial Agricultural Directorates, Centers of Agricultural Development, and academic and other research institutions. INRA, like other relevant institutions, serves on the multi-disciplinary teams that work within the framework of the national technology transfer following a methodology involving diagnosis, verification, dissemination, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
Morocco’s economy is dominated by large family groups that deal in a variety of businesses including agriculture. Names of some business groups that deal in agriculture and agro-industry are as follows:
- L’ONA (SNI).
- Ynna Holding.
- Chaabi Group.
- Akhannouch Group.
- Agouzal Group.
- Dianna Holding.
No information is available on agricultural advisory work, if any, at all undertaken by any of these commercial companies.
A significant number of NGOs in Morocco are engaged in a variety of social welfare and community development activities. Little information is available on their explicit contribution to agricultural extension. The NGOs usually look for funding and working opportunities under donor-funded programs and projects, but some are assumed to have other sources of financing. Names and location of a few NGOs, based in Rabat, that list agriculture, sustainable community development, eradication of rural poverty, environment, cooperatives or similar subjects as areas of their interest, are given below.
- Association femme et developpement rural.
- Association marocaine de solidarite et de developpement.
- Association marocaine pour la promotion de la femme rurale.
- Environment and Development Activities.
- Fondation credit agricole pour le microcredit.
- Forum maghrebin pour l’environnement et le developpement.
- Union des villes africaines.
Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies
There are many farmers-based, commodity-focused associations and cooperatives in Morocco that strive for bringing maximum benefits to their members through lobbying, bargaining, marketing and getting technical support from extension staff and subject-matter specialists. The Office du Developpement de la Cooperation (ODECO) is the government’s office responsible for developing cooperatives. A number of cooperatives were formed under the IFAD-financed Livestock and Pasture Development Project.
A few examples of farmers’ associations and agricultural cooperatives are as follows:
- Moroccan Avocado Producers’ Association.
- Red Meat Producers’ Association.
- Fruits and Vegetables Producers and Exporters Association (APEFEL).
- Association of Banana Producers of Morocco (APROBA).
- National Agrifood Products Federation (FENAGRI).
- Morocco’s Preserved Agrifood Products Association (FICOPAM).
- Moroccan Citrus Fruit Producers Association (ASPAM).
- National Association of Cattle Breeders (ANEB).
- National Union of Agricultural Dairy Cooperatives (UNCAL).
- Young Women’s Agricultural Cooperative (located at Imouzzer-Kandar, in Middle Atlas Mountains).
- Argan Oil Women’s Cooperatives.
- Maroc Taswiq (a Moroccan marketing platform that collects and distributes products made by cooperatives of small-scale producers in 16 regions of the country).
- Ourika Cooperative for the Advancement of Agriculture (provides on-farm training, harvesting and orchard rehabilitation services).
- El Mohamadia Olive Oil Cooperative (located in southern Morocco).
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Morocco. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.
Training Options for Extension Professionals
The following two well established academic institutions in Morocco can provide pre-service education in agricultural sciences, including extension:
- National School of Agriculture (Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknes; abbreviated as ENA), located at Meknes. The school, founded in 1942, offers academic programs in a number of agricultural disciplines including animal science.
- Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II; abbreviated as IAV Hassan II), located in the capital city of Rabat, with another campus in Agadir. Founded in 1966, the institute is involved in training, research and development in the areas of agriculture, rural development, and management of natural resources.
For in-service training, extension professionals could contact the following institutions:
- National School of Agriculture.
- Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.
- National Center of Studies and Research in Agricultural Extension.
- National Agronomic Research Institute, and its affiliated institutes located in various parts of Morocco.
- Technical and Vocational Agricultural Training Centers, located in various parts of the country.
Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension
Morocco has adopted the Telecommunication Act (55/01) for monitoring the development of information technology. The Center for Information Technology was established in 2005. In 2008, Morocco reportedly had more than 2,200 Internet service providers and cyber cafes. According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Morocco was 113.26. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 51. The government has also developed the Numerical Morocco Strategy 2013 to position Morocco in the world as a modern ICT country. In May 2013, Morocco hosted the two-day ICT-2013: 20th International Conference on Telecommunications at Casablanca.
Morocco has taken a number of ICT initiatives aimed at improving its education system. They are CATT (Computer Assisted Teacher Training), implemented in 1999; CVM (Moroccan Virtual Campus), launched in 2002; GENIE (Generalization of ICT in Education), started in 2005; Marwan Project (Morocco Wide Area Network), launched in 2007; and international collaborative ICT educational programs such as CIVICS (Community Voices Collaborative Solutions), BRIDGE (Building Respect through Internet Dialogue and Global Education), ALEF (Advancing Learning and Employability for a Better Future) and MAF (Mtandao Afrika).
In the agricultural sector, the National Institute of Agronomic Research reinforced the Intranet and Internet infrastructure in 2003 through the coverage of seven regional and three central level sites equipped with small and medium sized networks. Examples of ICT-based activities are the National Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Morocco Genebank, Geographic Information Systems on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources through decision-making tools, Agro-climatic Maps, and Land Suitability Maps. An advanced European e-agriculture service is being set up in Morocco under a European Union funded project on crop monitoring as an e-agricultural tool. Starting 2013, Morocco is going to implement a European Union-funded “MoICT Project” that aims at strengthening the capacity of the Universite Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez to reinforce the ICT for water research in Morocco within the context of the European Research Area.
In agricultural extension, however, no modern ICT tools have yet been developed or utilized with the exception of FAO project on Virtual Extension Research Communication Network (VERCON). Currently, radio and television are being used in support of extension. Examples of successful programs are “Farmers’ Calendar” program broadcast twice a day by Radio Midi 1, and Al Fellah documentaries on the television.
Resources and References
Abdelouahad, A.B. and M. Abdelali. 2010. Country Profile Report on Agricultural Research, Extension and Information Services: The Case of Morocco. Paper presented at the Sub-regional Consultative Workshop on Knowledge Exchange Management System for Strengthening Rural Community Development, held at Cairo, Egypt, in December 2010, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
African Development Bank (probably 2011). Morocco: Country Strategy Paper 2012-2016
Gaaya, A. 2004. Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD): The Case of Morocco. Morocco Country Paper presented at the Sub-regional Workshop on Application of ICT for Enhancement of Extension Linkages, Coordination and Services, held at Hammamet, Tunisia, 22-24 November 2004, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Hamdy, A. 2007. ICT in Education in Morocco. In Survey of ICT and Education in Africa: Morocco Country Report. Available at www.infodev.org.
IFAD (no date). IFAD in Morocco. Available at http://www.ifad.org/media/success/morocco/morocco_2.htm
Ismaili, M., M. Raggi, and D. Viaggi. 2007. People, Trade and Training: The Needs of Morocco Agricultural Enterprises Facing EU Markets. Paper presented at the 105th EAAE Seminar, “International Marketing and International Trade of Quality Food Products”, held at Bologna, Italy, March 8-10, 2007.
Oulahhboub, M. A. 2006. Morocco Country Paper presented at the Regional Workshop on Reform of National Agricultural Extension Systems, held at Hammamet, Tunisia, 18-21 September 2006, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Oulahhboub, M. A., and C. Kradi .2004. Morocco Country Report presented at the Sub-regional Workshop on Application of ICT for Enhancement of Extension Linkages, Coordination and Services, held at Hammamet, Tunisia, 22-24 November 2004, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Rivera, W.M., M.K. Qamar, and H.K. Mwandemere. 2005. Enhancing Coordination Among AKIS/RD Actors: An Analytical and Comparative Review of Country Studies on Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Sadiki, M. 2009. Agricultural Research System of Morocco. PowerPoint presentation made at the ARIMNET Methodological Workshop held in Rome, February 3-4, 2009.
San Diego State University Foundation .1998. Moroccan Cooperative Agricultural Research Program; USAID-funded Project Final Report. San Diego, California.
Stads, G.J. and A. Kissi. 2005. Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators: Morocco. ASTI Country Brief No. 27. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute .
Taher, S.M. 2011. Dairy Development in Morocco. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
USAID.2009. Morocco Agricultural Economy & Policy Paper.
World Bank. 2013. Project Information Document, Appraisal Stage, Report No. PIDA668. Morocco Social and Integrated Agriculture Project.
- Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (August 2013)
- Edited by Burton E. Swanson