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Cold weather slows down the Moroccan watermelon and melon campaign

The melon and watermelon season in Morocco is once again being disrupted by odd weather conditions. In addition to the reduction in cultivated areas due to drought, the current colder-than-usual climate is delaying harvests.

Ahmed Bouljid, an exporter of various fruits: "We're witnessing a near suspension of the campaign. All watermelon-growing regions, from Souss, Haouz, and Kelaat Sraghna to Settat and Beni Mellal, are experiencing unusually cold weather at this time of year. This is delaying the development of melons and watermelons and exacerbating the drop in volumes caused by the drought and subsequent restrictions on production."

The shortage of watermelons and melons at a time of high demand is pushing up prices, explains Bouljid: "I receive orders from many markets such as France, Italy, and the Netherlands, but there aren't enough volumes to keep up with them all. On the local market, too, these fruits are expensive compared with a normal season. Farm-gate prices average 7 MAD per kg." [1 EUR = 10.7 MAD]

The first harvests from the Zagora region are now running out, says Bouljid "At the start of the season, watermelon exports from Zagora were around 400-500 tonnes a day, and even 1000 tonnes on the busiest days. At present, ports are almost empty of watermelons".

The exporter assures: "We expect a recovery in a few weeks. The harvest peak - all regions combined - is expected to happen in the second week of June."

On the administrative level, exporters are adapting rather well to the new export requirements, according to Bouljid. To recall, the start of the Moroccan season was tainted by an alert on the presence of high levels of pesticide residues. Moroccan health authorities then imposed stricter export conditions.

Bouljid concludes: "ONSSA and Morocco Foodex are doing a good job and have supported us in adopting the new requirements. Moroccan watermelons and melons are guaranteed in terms of quality, and the export process is currently smooth, albeit rigorous."

For more information:
Ahmed Bouljid
EntrepĂ´t Frigorifique Lexus
Tel: +212 661-177735
Email: [email protected]