Covid-19 and weather impacts: Morocco's GDB down 6.3% in 2020

The Moroccan domestic economy contracted by 6.3 percent in 2020, the most severe contraction ever recorded since the compilation of the national accounts began, as a result of the double whammy of the Covid-19 pandemic and adverse weather conditions, Morocco’s central bank (Bank Al-Maghrib) has said.

Subsequently to the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus both nationally and internationally, non-agricultural activities posted a 5.8 percent decline in their value-added, with record-breaking drops in certain service sectors such as "Hotels and restaurants", "Transport" and "Trade", the bank points out in its annual report.

In the secondary sector, the crisis impacted all activities with the major exception of the extractive, food, chemical, and para-chemical industries. The agricultural sector reported a further 8.6 percent drop in value-added, due to a drought that severely affected almost all crops, according to the report which was presented Saturday to King Mohammed VI by the bank's governor Abdellatif Jouahri.

In sub-annual frequency, after a virtual stagnation in the first quarter, GDP fell by 15.1 percent in the second quarter, when the population was under strict lockdown, before gradually easing over the rest of the year with the progressive alleviation of restrictive measures.

After a 4.6 percent decline in 2019, the value-added of the primary sector contracted further by 6.9 percent, covering a sharpening decline from 5.8 percent to 8.6 percent for agriculture and an accelerated growth in fishing activity from 8.3 percent to 12.7 percent, the source underlines. The 2019/2020 agricultural crop year started with rainfall favourable for soil sowing. However, a long period of almost generalized drought ensued during the cereal development phase, with a rainfall deficit amounting to 31 percent at the end of May compared to the average of the last thirty years.

Although the area sown to the three main cereals increased by 22 percent from the previous season to 4.3 million hectares, the average yield was almost halved to 7.4 quintals per hectare, the lowest level since 2008. Overall, the crop fell by 38.2 percent to 32.1 million quintals (MQx), including 17.7 MQx of soft wheat, 7.9 MQx of durum wheat and 6.5 MQx of barley.

Similarly, production fell by 32.2 percent for citrus fruits, 26.3 percent for olives, 4.8 percent for forage crops and 2.2 percent for market gardening. Conversely, it increased by 41 percent for dates and 5 percent for sugar crops.

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