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Moroccan producers feel the heat

Country-wide heat waves have caused problems for Moroccan apple and stonefruit growers, with insufficient chilling hours leading to quality and quantity issues

Moroccan producers feel the heat

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Concerns over the impact of climate change are growing in Morocco, especially among apple producers reliant on a sufficient number of chilling hours to obtain the desired quantity and quality.

In addition to a drop in volume, growers have complained of inadequately ripe fruit that is smaller in size than usual, with a squishy texture, according to Medias24. Spanish and French farmers have reportedly experienced a similar phenomenon this summer.

“This year, the minimum number of chilling hours was not reached,” said Abderrahmane Rifaï, an expert in the development of the country’s farming sector. “This is the factor that determines the number of flowering buds and therefore the number of fruits harvested. The impact on productivity has been evident.”

The same issues apply to other products, including peaches and nectarines, to varying degrees.

Moroccan producers have therefore been compelled to invest in applied research, not into brand-new varieties, but into existing varieties currently thriving in similar conditions elsewhere in the world.

According to Rifaï, an applied research programme is being finalised as part of a partnership between the ministry of agriculture and Fedam, Morocco’s federation of fruit trees.

Around 30 trials will apparently be conducted in production areas across the country, with results expected in approximately ten years’ time.

The months of July and August were significantly hotter than average in Morocco, with many parts of the country, including Beni-Mellal, Marrakech, Fes and Ouarzazate, experiencing heat waves lasting upwards of three weeks.

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