Marrakech – Amid growing climate impacts and water scarcity, the Kingdom of Morocco and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement today for a new project that will improve the livelihoods and living conditions for rural people in the mountainous areas of the Oriental region and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

In a signing ceremony in Marrakech, IFAD President Alvaro Lario, His Excellency Mohamed Sadiki, the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, and His Excellency Fouzi Lakjaa, the Minister Delegate for the Budget, announced the inauguration of the Integrated Rural Development Project of the Mountain Areas in the Oriental Region (PADERMO) project with total financing of €87 million.

The project will promote improved agricultural production, diversification of sources of income, product processing and access to markets. The project has a strong focus on rural infrastructure, small-scale irrigation, water use efficiency and protection of agricultural land against erosion.

“Morocco rebounded quickly from the impacts of COVID-19 in 2021, but the challenging global economic situation coupled with a severe drought that hit the country last year have threatened the livelihoods of rural people,” said President Lario. “We are financing this project with the government to make sure that the rural communities in the Oriental region are able to bounce back, and build a better future for themselves and for Morocco”.

The agriculture sector has an important and stable place in the Moroccan economy, accounting for some 12.5 per cent of GDP since the early 2000s and providing some 33.2 per cent of total employment (2019) and 52.1 per cent of women’s employment.

PADERMO will be implemented over seven years and will cover 19 territorial communes across three provinces and the prefecture of the Oriental region.

“Ultimately, we expect from this project a significant reduction in poverty and an improvement in the living conditions of the target populations, through the improvement of their income, their food security, their well-being and the strengthening of their resilience to effects of climate change, upgrading value chains based on sustainable management of natural resources, diversifying the local economy and improving access to basic socio-economic services,” said HE Mohamed Sadiki.

PADERMO is fully aligned with the Moroccan Green Generation 2020-2030 strategic goals for equitable and sustainable development. It will target around 100,000 rural people, 30 per cent of them are women and 40 per cent, youth.

To promote gender and social inclusion, PADERMO will prioritize approaches and initiatives that encourage the participation and feedback of stakeholders. Women and youth will particularly benefit from literacy and financial education programmes and have access to agricultural technology training. The project’s income-generating activities will specifically target women, while youth will be able to profit from the business teams, agricultural service cooperatives and innovative microenterprises.

IFAD has been actively involved in supporting rural development in Morocco since 1979 and has implemented a total of 16 projects in the country for total investment US$1.7 billion targeting 727,000 rural households.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency. Based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub – IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided more than US$24 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund projects in developing countries.