Developing modern farming while ensuring effective, sustainable management of water resources, this is the aim of the European Investment Bank’s EUR 42.5 million loan for the Green Morocco Plan. The loan agreement was signed on 4 October 2012 by Morocco’s Finance Minister, Nizar Baraka, and EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive, in the presence of Morocco’s Agriculture Minister, Aziz Akhannouch.

The loan will help to finance the National Irrigation Water Saving Programme’s priority action of developing high value added modern farming and increasing crop diversity and yields while finding sustainable irrigation solutions. This will generate the substantial environmental benefit of water savings of 20 to 50% along with the reduction of losses in the public irrigation network.

Specifically, the loan will finance the conversion of 21 405 ha of the existing public irrigation network into localised systems thanks to the introduction of more efficient drip irrigation equipment and the provision of technical assistance.  Nearly 8 000 small-scale farmers will benefit from this scheme in the regions of Gharb-Kenitra, d’Haouz-Marrakech and Souss-Massa-Agadir.

At the signing ceremony, EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive welcomed the loan, saying: “This is a key financing operation for Morocco. It is designed to foster modern, sustainable and profitable farming that will drive growth and employment in the country. By promoting environmentally responsible irrigation of farmland, we are helping to give the younger generation a future”.

With 2012 marking 10 years of the EIB’s activity in the Mediterranean, the signing of this loan underscores the 35-year quality partnership between the EIB and Morocco, which has given rise to €4.7 billion worth of financing in key sectors such as energy, transport, telecoms, water, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), urban infrastructure and industry. In 2011, Morocco was one of the leading beneficiaries of EIB action, attracting €200 million of investment. Since January 2012, the EIB has committed the record amount of over €450 million to practical projects directly promoting Morocco’s economic and social development.