Morocco’s tomatoes behind France’s protests

Morocco’s tomatoes behind France’s protests

Relations between Morocco and France continue to fall, with now agricultural produce being at the centre of the latest ‘tete-a-tete’.

Tomatoes hit French supermarket shelves, then French supermarket car parks as farmers protest Moroccan tomato imports, according to Reuters.

Since the 18th January, farmers in France have taken to throwing out thousands of Moroccan grown tomatoes and congesting major Parisian motorways with their tractors in objection to the ‘unfair competition.’

With Moroccan cherry tomatoes costing 2.4 times less than French grown ones, it’s easy to see how French farmers struggle to compete with giant corporations whilst trying to earn a decent living in a capitalist society.

Cheap labour contributes towards the low prices of Moroccan grown tomatoes as the harvesters can earn as little as $1.5 per hour.

READ: Morocco’s agri exports up 16% claims government report

A Moroccan Exporter’s Association representative stated that Morocco’s tomatoes “are not invading France or Europe.”

Although Rabat exported around 424.690 tonnes of tomatoes in 2022 and the country became the EU’s top tomato supplier in the same year, many Moroccans faced devastation in March 2023 as the price of the humble tomato skyrocketed.

From 18th-22nd March 2023, the head of a fruit and vegetable exporter’s group revealed that Morocco had placed a total ban on tomato exports in an attempt to reduce domestic prices.

Morocco’s tomato production is predicted to fall by approximately 30% due to premature frosts and scorching summer temperatures, so the red fruit wastage in French protests may contribute towards negative attitudes for many Moroccans.

On 1st February 2024, Young Farmers and the FNSEA requested a suspension of the farming protests as French Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal offered financial aid and protection against any unfair competition as well as eased regulations.

However, other farming unions such as the Farmer’s Confederation maintain the need to protest as they argue that funding, protection, and eased regulations is not enough to combat the issue at hand.



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