Sunday, April 24, 2011

Morocco In the News: April 20 - 25

Clinton highlights Morocco's Family Law
Washington - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted women's gains in some Muslim countries, hailing notably Morocco's 2004 Family law.
    "Muslim women have long enjoyed greater rights and opportunities in places like Bangladesh or Indonesia. Or consider the family law in Morocco or the personal status code in Tunisia," said Clinton at at the Eighth Annual US-Islamic World Forum, held in Washington on April 12-14.     "All over the world we see living proof that Islam and women's rights are compatible," She pointed out.   
    The Eighth Annual US-Islamic World Forum brings together a galaxy of leaders and intellectuals from around the Muslim world to engage in dialogue with US officials and policy makers and promote  relations between the US and Muslim countries.
 Morocco's solar power project, 'one of the World's largest'- Dow Jones Newswires.
Morocco's solar energy project, which aims at providing 14% of the country's electricity needs, is the most advanced in North Africa and "one of the World's largest," the Dow Jones Newswire highlighted on Tuesday.

The solar project is part of a wider effort to boost Morocco's industrial economy, leveraging its proximity to European and African markets with six "clusters" in sectors including autos, aerospace, agribusiness and electronics, wrote the same source. Four bidding consortia have been short-listed for Ouarzazate, the first of a $9 billion project to build five planned facilities aimed at raising the country's solar capacity to 2 gigawatts by 2020, The Dow Jones Newswire quoted Minister of Industry, Trade and New Technologies Ahmed RĂ©da Chami, as saying. The state agency running the project has lined up funding support from multilateral agencies that could be exercised by the winning consortia, added Chami in interview in Chicago with the Dow Jones Newswire. Morocco has been successful in attracting overseas investment against rival pitches from eastern Europe and Mexico, reflecting lower labor costs, but also its location as supply chains shortened, the Moroccan official went on to say. Morocco is looking to improve its competitiveness by moving away from a fixed exchange-rate policy towards a range-bound regime, he said. MAP

San Francisco / Morocco Board News---    Through the Green Plan and the Agency for Partnership for Progress (APP) programs, Morocco is currently redoubling its efforts to introduce modern, sustainable agricultural methods and high-value crops, which are expected to increase agricultural productivity and income, particularly for small farms and the rural poor. 
In support of these efforts, Morocco should apply the strategies that have proven highly successful in producing in California the same high-value crops identified in Morocco’s Green Plan and the APP Program.  The similarities between Morocco and California in climatic conditions make this possible.
Applying the California Model in Morocco

California’s agricultural achievement is remarkable. 

•    California produces more than 50% of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the U.S.A. grown on less than 4% of America’s farmland. 
•    California’s annual revenue from agriculture approaches $30 billion.
•    The California Agricultural Industry generates $100 billion dollars annually.
•    More than 350 crops are grown in California.
•    Annual revenue from fruit and nut crops is $10.8 billion.
•    Annual revenue from vegetable and melon crops is $7.8 billion.
•    Annual revenue from field and seed crops and nursery products is $8.2 billion.
•    Livestock and poultry provide $7.1 billion in revenue.
•    California is first in the U.S. in milk production with 1.7 million dairy cows and $5.2 billion annual revenue.
•    California produces 5.3 billion eggs per year with 20.3 million hens.
•    California has 400,000 bee colonies for pollination.

The fact that California has reached this level of production and that small farmers share in all the benefits of this agricultural wealth is due not in small measure to the work of the Cooperative Extension experts from the University of California.  These experts contributed to the improvement of California yields, quality, and price maintenance standards for farms of all sizes in the state, but they also contributed tirelessly to making sure that these improvements were realized by small farms operated in many cases by low-income ethnic minorities.  In addition, these experts helped ensure that the production of these small farms was integrated into the market through successful aggregation strategies.

Morocco can achieve what California has achieved using the same strategies and techniques with technical assistance and training provided by the very experts who helped create the California Miracle.

Morocco’s Progress

The Kingdom of Morocco under the leadership of King Mohammed VI is entirely committed to increasing rural income through agricultural development.   Moroccans from all walks of life recognize the importance of conquering rural poverty; know that it will take commitment, time and money; and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.   Because of the cultural foundation of the country, no Moroccan wants to see other Moroccans living in substandard conditions.  Everyone wants to do something about poverty.  Moroccans who have been involved in a sincere, dedicated way to reduce rural poverty are very much aware of its dehumanizing impact on the poor.  They are confronting poverty in all its aspects: 

•    Absolute Poverty
•    Monetary Poverty
•    Extreme Poverty
•    General Poverty
•    Relative Poverty
•    Human Poverty

These Moroccans are aware that the impact of rural poverty is greatest on those younger than 15 years of age, girls, and female widowers.

Many achievements have marked the dedicated efforts under the leadership of the King to modernize agriculture and reduce rural poverty, including the following:

•    Nearly 100 dams constructed to help provide hydroelectric power     and water, potable and for irrigation;
•    1.5 million hectares of irrigated land;
•    Progress in modernizing agricultural education and training     programs;
•    Progress in rural electrification;
•    Progress in rural literacy, health services, and education;
•    Reduction in infant and mother mortality;
•    Creation of rural cooperatives and associations;
•    Establishment of schools of agricultural and veterinary science and     research institutes
•    Progress in the diffusion and application of scientific research;
•    Construction of a modern highway system and rural roads
•    Construction of ports;
•    Progress in the railroad system;
•    Progress in trucking system.

Morocco is at the take-off stage in terms of achieving its agricultural modernization goals.  In addition to the achievements noted above, it has the institutional infrastructure in place to advance this agricultural modernization process. 

Since Morocco’s independence in 1956, Morocco implemented agrarian reform and land redistribution to poor rural families.  King Mohammed VI has reinforced the institutional infrastructure to enhance the viability of small family farms through the following programs:

(1)     ORMVA

Morocco’s office of rural development known as the Office Regional de Mise en Valeur Agricole (ORMVA) is organized in nine regional offices to introduce techniques and methods of agricultural modernization, to encourage cash crop production through the use of irrigation, and to organize small farmers into production cooperatives.  The ORMVA manages irrigation water in their regions and also helps poor farmers develop small income-producing projects.

(2)     INDH

The National Initiative for Human Development (Initiative Nationale pour le Developpement Humain) (INDH) contracted with 32 entities; of which 14 are consulting firms specialized in development. Many partners and donor countries have supported the INDH and joint efforts are mobilized to combat poverty in 403 rural communes, representing 3.75 million rural poor. 


The Agency for Agricultural Development (Agence de Developpement Agricole) (ADA) manages the Moroccan Green Plan and the public land leasing initiatives. These actions and their participants seek to modernize Moroccan agriculture in a sustained development and capacity-building strategy.  This is to be accomplished through public-private programs to expand the cultivation of export-demand-driven high-value products.  The program will apply an aggregation strategy to develop capabilities of small farms and poor rural families to produce and market high-value crops and thereby increase their income.  The program intends to reduce the acreage for cereals and increase the production of fruit trees and high-value export crops.

(4)    APP’s Fruit Tree Productivity Project

The Agency for Partnership for Progress (APP) manages the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which has the mission of providing knowledge and building capacity through its fruit tree development program focused on olives, almonds, dates, and figs.  APP intends to accomplish this mission through ensuring an adequate balance in the aggregation process between farmers, large and small, including poor rural farmers.  The APP, operating within limits of time and funding, will contract with local and international development consulting firms of experts to accomplish its mission.

These elements of the Moroccan institutional infrastructure are in place to facilitate the transformation of agriculture to a modernized, sustainable state.

I propose the following additional step to make sure that the rural poor benefit from all these efforts.  With the direct participation of California’s extension program experts, Morocco’s agricultural schools and institutes can implement an extension program that is modeled on the California program.  The California experts have assured me that they are willing to contribute directly, if called upon. They are ready to apply California benchmarks for yield, quality, and return, and they propose to bring to bear in Morocco the full range of technical assistance and training that made small farm agriculture in California so successful.

As one of the experts told me: 
“Just like me, all of the experts are not doing it for the money.  We are doing it because this is what we do best and we are excellent at it.  Most of us if not all are success driven and we know that Morocco’s sustainable agricultural development and modernization offers a challenge and can become a success story and we want to make it happen, because we can make it happen. We made it happen in California and Arizona. Why not Morocco? Furthermore, all the experts like Morocco and would not mind a long term commitment.  We need to bring cultures, religions and people closer together by creating wealth through an adequate aggregation equation between large farmers and small farmers and reduce disparities. If we can do it through our knowledge and capability as we have demonstrated in California, why not in Morocco? It will be a great satisfaction and many of our other colleagues with sound expertise will join. What better place to do it than Morocco?”

This may seem like a dream to you, but I am working with agronomists in California and Morocco to make it a dream come true.  If implemented, this program will be a bare-bones people-to-people assistance – transparent, free of excessive overhead and waste, and free of graft and corruption.
 International Congress of Women in May in Rabat-40th Anniversary of the National Union of Moroccan Women( UNFM)
An international conference of women will be held from 7 to 9 May in Rabat under the theme "Women and development challenges in the 21st century. "
Under the presidency of HRH Princess Lalla Meryem, President of the National Union of Moroccan Women (UNFM), this congress, organized to mark the 40th anniversary of the UNFM, will bring together women ministers, experts, researchers, lawyers, sociologists and representatives of civil society from over 30 countries to exchange their experiences in political, economic, social and cultural development.

The congress also set itself the objective, among others, to overcome difficulties that hinder the contribution of women to socio-economic, shed light on legal norms, national and international, that give women's rightful place as of right, to highlight women's achievements in different areas and clarify the role of women in strengthening the values of citizenship to serve the peaceful coexistence of societies.

Throughout this three-day conference, several workshops will be devoted to training, education and development potential of women both politically and socially and the level of basic legal rights of women, said Wednesday a statement of UNFM. This event is also an opportunity to highlight the artistic creativity of Moroccan women through craft exhibitions involving fifty women from different regions of the Kingdom.

USAID Morocco launches Chabab4Change
The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID / Morocco in partnership with the Executive Forum SNRT launch in April a series of debates for young people entitled "Chabab4Change" broadcast on national radio through its program "Maa Shabab" (with youth) moderated by journalist Samir Raissouni.

At the same time and in collaboration with the Executive Forum and the Institute SNRT Specializes in Cinema and Audiovisual (ISCA), USAID is launching a national competition which aims to encourage young people between 18 and 35 to submit their creations on the theme "Youth and Change" by using the following media: video (broadcast TV, reportage, documentary, fiction), radio (news story or broadcast radio), photos, social media (or blog Facebook).

These designs must be made by youth and youth initiatives illustrating individual or community who have created or contributed to changes launch a public debate on change. Major awards (cash and in kind will be awarded to winners May 6 at Theatre Mohammed V). The competition will start on 12 and ends April 28, 2011. The criteria for the competition are available to the public on the following link
A jury of professionals and experts in broadcasting, film, photography, civil society and social media will judge the achievements of candidates. The competition is also open to professionals in the youth sector and the media if they do not exceed 45 years.

At the same time, USAID will organize, from 2 to 7 May 2011 in Rabat, the national forum on youth and the media under the theme "Youth Leadership & Change."

Through the establishment of an Academy for Young Leaders at the Forum, USAID will provide a unique program that youth group leaders with good ideas and projects and professionals in media, information technology and communication, governance and democracy, education and economy to discuss topics related to youth participation in development and Moroccan leaders of local affairs of the country. The Academy will focus on the role of public media in supporting reforms that Morocco is witnessing currently, and the role they must play in order to reflect the demands and expectations of young people through programs mentoring, education and morality in public life.


The program will conclude with an evening of tribute on May 6 at Theatre Mohammed V at 20:00. It will feature senior officials, acquaintances and youth who have produced outstanding actions in various areas, it will also honor individuals who worked to strengthen ties of friendship and partnership between the Moroccan people and the American people.


On the sidelines of the forum, USAID will also hold 5 and May 6 at Theatre Mohammed V in Rabat on citizen initiatives show titled "Youth Expo". The Salon is an exhibition bringing together the different programs and USAID partners, booths, round tables, and entertainment open to the public to recognize the efforts of USAID in the search for alternatives to the problem Youth.


Chabab4Change part of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of USAID in the world, showing five decades of success stories and lessons learned in global development. In Morocco, USAID will focus on the fiftieth anniversary celebration of young people under the International Youth Year.

To participate:

Contact Us

Karima Rhanem

Communications Manager program Chabab4Change

USAID / Morocco

0661 31 86 80

By Annette Hinkle
For thousands of years, spring has been recognized as a time of renewal. After a long winter, it’s the season that brings warming temperatures, new growth, hope for a fruitful planting season and of course, celebrations — both religious and cultural — that center around birth and rebirth.
One of the most symbolic animals of the season is the lamb. Referenced heavily throughout history and in religious texts in which it was often the highest sacrifice that could be offered, lambs (as well as sheep) have held a valued place in society throughout history. And for good reason. For more than 10,000 years, they’ve been a vital source of food and because sheep also produce wool, their domestication is what allowed civilizations to move into colder climates.
But let’s face it, as a food source today, lamb does not get the culinary respect in this country that other meat does. Perhaps it was the 19th century “Sheep Wars” and the rise of the cattle industry in the American West that has made beef the preferred choice for dinner ever since. Granted, lamb does have a stronger flavor than most meats, so it is an acquired taste for some. But when done right, there’s nothing like it, and those who love it swear by it.
Among them is Sag Harbor’s Ken Dorph, who gathered a group of friends in his Sag Harbor kitchen last Saturday for a lamb feast. It may have been cold and rainy outside, but as guests came through the door they were greeted by the evocative scents of the beginnings of a lamb tajine (or tagine), a North African dish named for the conical clay pot in which it is traditionally cooked.
Because of its strong flavor, lamb is a meat that takes well to slow cooking and is ideal in stews — which is basically what a tajine is. Full of exotic spices, Dorph’s version fills the kitchen with the aroma of the ingredients — cubed lamb followed by cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, honey, dates, cilantro and even pomegranate juice.
“I make the lamb first — you want to braise it,” explains Dorph as he stirs. “ I feel it’s important to do that because it seals in the juices on the stove top. After that you put on the spices and cook the other things like the onions in a separate sauce and finish it all in the oven.”
Dorph adds that Tajines are very specific to Morocco but depending on the balance of ingredients can have very different flavors — from sweet to savory.
Read more here:
Protests no threat to Morocco royal firm sales-execs.
Tue Apr 19, 2011
* Protests will not impact asset sale plan-SNI executives
* Controlled by Moroccan royals, SNI under public scrutiny
* Danone, Kraft may raise Moroccan dairy, biscuit stakes
* SNI says Casablanca bourse not overpriced
* SNI is top investor in Casablanca bourse
By Souhail Karam
CASABLANCA, April 19 (Reuters) - SNI, the holding company controlled by Morocco's royal family, said it is pushing ahead with asset sales despite protests against King Mohammed's grip on power and his influence on the country's economy.
Two senior executives at SNI, speaking to Reuters on condition they were not identified, said they had no idea how much the sale of companies, many of which are listed on the Casblanca bourse, might generate.
But they disagreed with those analysts who say Moroccan stocks are overpriced and indicated they could sell some assets at a premium.
"We don't see any impact (from protests) on the process. If we did, we would have put the sale process on hold," said one of the executives in a rare interview at SNI's offices in Casablanca.
The executives at SNI, whose holdings make up about 12 percent of the Casablanca bourse by market capitalisation, said it would start selling key assets "before autumn."
They played down the relevance of stock prices when evaluating the value of assets. With an overall price to earning ratio of 18, Casablanca is seen as one of the region's priciest.
"We don't agree with a predominant view that Casablanca bourse is overpriced. The valuations are not cheap but they also are not overpriced," the executives said.
SNI has come under greater public scrutiny amid persistent calls for the king to limit his political and business clout. King Mohammed has responded to the protests by pledging to give up some of his powers, make justice independent and enforce economic fair play. [ID:nLDE72A228] [ID:nLDE73C1YT]
The protest movement -- inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt -- has also raised concerns about investor risk in Morocco and the potential impact on the sale of SNI's assets.
Siger, the firm that groups the key business interests of the royal family, holds a majority stake in SNI.
SNI and ONA Group, in which SNI already held a majority stake, in March began a merger process and later delisted from the Casablanca bourse to pave the way for the transfer of ONA assets to SNI and later the sale of some of those assets. [ID:nLDE62P130]
The move should give management control to disparate businesses mainly in agri-businesses such as dairy firm Centrale Laitiere (LAIT.CS), cooking oil maker Lesieur (LESU.CS) and sugar refiner Cosumar (CSMR.CS), market leaders in Morocco.
SNI, holder of 64 and 75 percent stakes in Lesieur and Cosumar respectively, will start by selling stakes in each of the two firms to strategic partners "before autumn" and then offer additional stakes to investors in the Casablanca bourse in the fourth quarter, the executives said.
"Lesieur and Cosumar are attracting interest from investors in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America and even Africa," said one of the SNI executives.
French oilseed group Sofiproteol has expressed interest in acquiring a stake in Lesieur. [ID:nLDE72D1VK]
SNI also holds a 48.3 percent stake in Morocco's biggest bank AttijariWafa (ATW.CS), 50 percent in its biggest cement firm Lafarge Maroc and 63 percent in Centrale Laitiere.
AttijariWafa, SNI's most valuable asset, will follow Cosumar and Lesieur's sales. "We plan to sell between 15 and 20 percent in the bank hopefully this year," one of the executives said.
"The process for the sale will start soon. It will most likely have to be a foreign investor with real know-how and who can bring real added-value to the bank."
SNI "will most likely end up with stakes of around 10 to 15 percent in each of Lesieur and Cosumar and less than 30 percent in AttijariWafa", they said.
"In offering stakes in Cosumar, Lesieur or AttijariWafa Bank, we will be selling assets not shares. We concentrate on the fundamentals and the growth prospects," one of the executives said.
SNI may directly sell stakes in Centrale Laitiere and leading local biscuit maker Bimo to French Danone (DANO.PA) and Kraft Foods (KFT.N), the executives said. Danone already holds a 29-percent stake in Centrale Laitiere.
"(Danone and Kraft) have always expressed a desire to raise their stakes in the two firms. They like to have control."
SNI raised its consolidated net profit by almost 250 percent to 8.3 billion dirhams ($1.05 billion) in 2010 but posted a 40 percent drop in its statuory net profit in 2010 due mainly to the cost of its merger with ONA. [ID:nLDE73E0N9] (Editing by David Cowell)
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Amazigh campaigners challenge parties.
By Imrane Binoual 2011-04-22
Morocco's political parties are unconvinced that the time is ripe for making the Tamazight language official.
With constitutional reforms on the agenda, Morocco's Amazigh activists hope that policy-makers will heed their long-standing demands.
They complain that parties only consider the Amazigh issue occasionally, especially in the run-up to elections or other politically significant moments.
"Their positions are ambiguous and unclear, with the exception of the Istiqlal Party, whose stance is clearly against the enshrinement of the Amazigh language in the constitution," said Ahmed Assid, one of the founders of Amazigh Observatory for Rights and Freedoms (OADL).
When asked about the issue, Abdelkader El Kihel, a member of the executive committee of the Istiqlal Party, said that his party refuses to "overstate things because this is a debate about the question of whether the language should be promoted to the status of a national language, an official language or both".
He added that Istiqlal had considered the experience of other countries in addressing a similar issue. "This led us to ask ourselves whether the Amazigh language is ready to be made official. The answer is no," El Kihel said.
"It still needs to be rehabilitated," he said, adding that "there are several Amazigh languages, not just one".
"We are not in favour of the Amazigh language being made an official language," he reiterated.
Assid, meanwhile, confronted these arguments, saying that "there are democracies that recognise 37 official languages, such as Bolivia, and there are 11 in South Africa and four in Switzerland".
Justice and Development Party MP Lahcen Daoudi underlined that "everyone wanted the Amazigh language to become an official language" but "there are three local dialects" of the language spoken across Morocco. As such, it "cannot be considered for official status", he concluded.
He also invoked the difficulty of translating official documents into Tamazight, saying that constitionalising Tamazight "is not practical". Nonetheless, some parties, including the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), suggested that the language be included in the constitution.
"Our party was among the first to call for the recognition of Amazigh, 35 years ago," PPS member Abdelouahed Souheil told Magharebia. "We believe that this is not an example of demagogy on our part. It’s a very serious matter, because it must be remembered that this country is both Amazigh and Arab at the same time."
"For this language to become official, much work must be done on the technical aspects, primarily for broadcasting; teaching tools must be developed, IT systems need to be created," he added. "All these things must be done in due course."
Moroccans must embrace this idea to ensure that it "will become a reality fully experienced by all" of them, he concluded.
WB chief strongly supports Morocco's solar plan
Washington - President of the World Bank Group (WB) Robert Zoellick strongly supported, Friday in Washington, Morocco's solar energy plan launched by HM King Mohammed VI, urging the European Union (EU) to establish the conditions for the success of this project.
    Speaking at the ministerial meeting on climate actions, on the sidelines of the 2011 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the WB, Zoellick said that the Moroccan plan is an influential project in the region and could also help the regional integration.

    In this regard, he called on the EU's countries to support Morocco's solar plan and establish the conditions for its success including developing a market for green energy in the region and strengthening the interconnections between the EU and the countries south of the Mediterranean, including Morocco, in order to help facilitate and make more viable this large-scale project.

    In response to this call, Spain’s representative at the meeting voiced his country’s will to strongly contribute to the success of the Moroccan solar energy project.

    For his part, the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in charge of Economic and General Affairs, Nizar Baraka, stressed that the theme of climate change is crucial for the Maghreb and Arab countries, saying it is essential that these countries would be able to overcome this major problem.

    He also pointed out that although currently there is an interest to meet the short-term issues of governance improvement, democratic transition and job creation, it is important for Morocco to take into account the long-term issues, including that of climate change.

    At the meeting, whose discussions focused on the setting up of the Green Climate Fund, which aims to strengthen and develop national plans on climate change, Baraka also underlined that Morocco is well positioned to benefit from this Fund’s financing and be part of its Board of Directors, of which two thirds will consist of developing countries.

    He also noted that Morocco is strongly committed to this path by implementing an Environment Charter as well as a National Climate Change Plan to address the major issues in this field.

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