India – Morocco Ties: Looking at Cooperation from an Agricultural Perspective
India and Morocco have enjoyed a steady and fruitful relationship that continues to grow thanks to the trade opportunities between both countries. Indeed, the various agreements between India and Morocco yielded effective results for both countries who set a model of South-South cooperation that is also a win-win partnership.
Both countries share many common challenges as both are middle income countries. They have been enjoying sustained economic growth in the past two decades. On the one hand, India’s GDP after adjustment by purchasing power parity was 6092.65 USD (World Development Indicators. Unit : In constant 2011 international $) and this GDP per capita is equivalent to 1/3 of the world’s level (Trading Economics, 2017). On the other hand, Morocco’s GDP per capita stands at 7265.80 US dollars for the year 2016 (World Development Indicators. Unit : In constant 2011 international $). This GDP per capita, is equivalent to 48% of the world’s level. With close levels of development, the challenge for India and Morocco is to ensure an economic growth that can elevate them to the status of higher-income countries while avoiding the middle-income trap.
The Indian agricultural sector is one that has distinguished itself from other countries in the global south, placing itself as one of the world’s leading agricultural export markets with a significant economic presence in the global south. For instance, the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture made important findings on the success of Micro-Irrigation utilized in India. The organization conducted studies on the effect of micro-irrigation in 64 districts in 13 states, showing positive results with increased yield of crops (Chaudhary & Singh, 2016). Thus, the Indian strategy in agriculture helped India overcome food insecurity, become self-sufficient and develop more sophisticated irrigation systems and the use of selected seeds helped in the advancement as well. In parallel, Morocco has been doing well in agriculture and has equally developed great expertise in irrigation technologies.
Overall, agricultural production has been increasing both in India and Morocco since the 1990’s. Taking 2004 and 2006 as base years, the crop production index went from 116.27 (2007) to 146.76 (2014) for India and from 86.36 (2007) to 130.71 (2014) for Morocco. In parallel, employment in agriculture represents an important percentage of total employment in both countries. In India, about half of total employment goes to the agricultural sector while a little less than 40% of employment in Morocco is in the agricultural sector (World Development Indicators).
In the 1970’s, India used Moroccan phosphates to boost its agricultural productivity during its agricultural revolution. Up until today, Moroccan phosphates still contribute substantively to India’s agriculture. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, about 33,44kgs of phosphate-based fertilizers were used per hectare of arable land which is quite a significant number compared to the average in African countries (Indian Fertilizer Scenario 2013, Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India).
Cooperation between India and Morocco in several areas especially in agriculture could be further enhanced. Since India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, there is a need to optimize the production given almost 40% of it goes to waste every year. As a matter of fact, much can be done in terms of food processing to reduce the amount of wastage and boost India’s food exports. In sum, India and Morocco have various researchers and experts on agriculture that can take part in knowledge sharing through exchange programs.
Trade flows in terms of food products between India and Morocco provide interesting trends. As figure 1 shows, food trade is expanding between both countries which indicates a potential for further cooperation in the agricultural sector.
Figure 1: Morocco’s Imports and Exports of Food Products to/from India in thousands of dollars
Today, agriculture is seen in Africa as an important and vital engine for human development. African government are striving to promote productivity and make small farmers benefit from an inclusive growth process. In this context both Morocco and India can contribute to this effort through a partnership that can benefit African countries. They can also take advantage of the African commodities markets to secure win-win partnerships in the framework of a South-South cooperation.
In retrospect, Morocco is providing fertilizers that are adaptable to the needs of Indian agricultural land. The most efficient fertilizers are made of a combination of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, which Morocco has mastered thanks to its long-standing status as one of the leading exporter of phosphates in the world. Such experience can be very useful for Africa in producing fertilizers that can benefit the agricultural sector.
Given the state of agriculture development in both countries, there is definitely room for exchange of knowledge, experiences and technology transfer. India and Morocco can take stock of their longstanding expertise in this field to make a joint and effective contribution to social and economic development in Africa.
“This article has been originally published in the magazine of the Moroccan Embassy in New Delhi, India on the occasion of the Morocco National Day 2017.”