The government of Morocco is taking further measures to restrict watermelon production in an effort to conserve dwindling water resources.
In the province of Zagora, a key area for watermelon cultivation, the governor has issued a decision limiting the maximum areas allowed for watermelon cultivation to one hectare.
This restriction also applies to areas close to drinking water pumping fields, including facilities supplying potable water and the banks of the Draa River along the oases and riverbeds.
Local authorities have established committees to monitor water extraction for irrigation and enforce the restriction, with legal measures against violators.
Morocco has been grappling with water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change and consecutive droughts.
In 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture discontinued irrigation subsidies for water-intensive crops like avocados, watermelons, and citrus fruits.
Watermelon exports from Morocco had been gradually increasing, reaching 300,000 tonnes at the end of 2022, double the volume in 2017.
However, during the first six months of 2023, watermelon exports showed signs of slowing, with a 50% decrease in exports to Spain, a key market.