Climate & Agriculture
Three main climate zones
Morocco has three main environmental zones:
- The coastal plains and plateaus: The coastal region to the north enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate, with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. However, rainfall decreases progressively down the coast e.g. the northern Gharb plain receives around 800mm, the Sous valley in the south only 200mm.
- The highland areas of the Rif and Atlas mountains: Climate varies with altitude in the mountainous areas of Morocco, which make up 80% of the land. The more elevated mountain regions have higher rainfall (over 2,000mm) and colder temperatures, with winter snow common over 2,000 metres.
- Desert to the south east: In the southern part of Morocco, the semi-arid conditions beyond the Atlas Mountains soon become desert. This region has virtually no rain, very hot summer daytime temperatures and very cold winter nights.
Oases date palms
In the dry south of the country, oases (many fed by water from underground tunnels/ ganats from the mountains) produce dates as a cash crop.
The coastal plains and plateaus provide the main growing areas for Morocco’s commercial agriculture. The warm climate and rains allow for cereal production of winter wheat and barley, with vegetables, fruits, grapes, olives and pulses grown during the summer.
The country’s forests are a useful natural resource, with eucalyptus providing charcoal and paper pulp, and cork oak trees giving cork.
Increasing irrigation is opening up the production of other export crops such as tea, sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, sunflowers and soybeans.
Livestock-rearing (goats, sheep and cattle) is widespread across the country, providing a plentiful supply of meat and dairy products.
Fishing along the coast offers rich catches of sardines, bonito (similar to mackerel) and tuna.
With its fertile land, Morocco has the potential to be largely self-sufficient, producing enough food for its domestic market, as well as for export. However, cyclical droughts present a continual threat, causing regular hardships in the agricultural sector.