Malian president Boubacar Keita on April 23rd discusses the up side to international agricultural co-operation at a Meknes conference. (Photo: Hassan Benmehdi)
Morocco, Mali to boost agricultural collaboration
By Hassan Benmehdi
As part of the 7th National Symposium of Agriculture held Wednesday (April 23rd) in Meknes, Morocco and Mali are partnering to promote bilateral agricultural co-operation.
Mali will supply 10,000 hectares in the Office du Niger zone for agricultural exploitation by Moroccan financiers.
In addition, Moroccan investors will be exempted from a series of taxes and "as part of this partnership, Mali agrees to make available to Moroccan investors all the technical and administrative assistance for the implementation of agricultural projects in Mali," Malian Rural Development Minister Bokary Tereta said at a press conference.
Morocco will in turn mobilise national financiers to build, develop and rationally exploit the land put at their disposal.
Those investors will also be in charge of technical studies, feasibility and environmental and social impacts.
Moroccan Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch told Magharebia that the partnership agreement showed that "South-South" co-operation was moving ahead.
"Morocco will put all its expertise and its know-how at the service of Mali to accompany it in developing its agriculture," he said.
"I hope that African countries will opt for such partnerships to help each other minimise the risk of food insecurity," said United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director General José Graziano da Silva during the event.
Organised in partnership with the FAO, the Meknes conference was marked this year by the presence of the Guinean and Malian presidents, as well as the participation of the agriculture ministers from Spain, France, Saudi Arabia, Mali and Ivory Coast.
In his opening speech at the symposium, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita stressed that the fight against poverty came through the mastery of the agricultural sector and of fisheries resources.
"The development of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa will certainly prevent these young Africans from emigrating or joining terrorist cells operating in the wide and vast desert of northern Mali," he said.
He noted that young people were a key asset for African countries, which are requested to review their agricultural policies to allow them to flourish through honourable income-generating projects.
President Keita asked in this context for the support of Morocco to ensure the survival of the Niger River, the source of life for much of the Sahel region, which crosses the arid zones of Mali and Niger.
Guinean President Alpha Condé echoed his Malian counterpart's request by seeking Morocco's help in the agriculture field, drawing on the spirit and philosophy of the Plan Maroc Vert.
"We hope that Morocco will put its know-how in agricultural development at our disposal," he said, noting that drought, aridity and the lack of agricultural policy "drive thousands of young Africans to emigrate into the unknown in order to survive".
For his part, agronomist Abdellah Baazi said that with adequate financial resources, "South-South agricultural co-operation today represents an effective response to a number of socio-economic problems that continue to plunge Africa into poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and disease."