The main agricultural operators have been present in Morocco for many years, but they have always faced an important limitation in their structures and plans: Moroccan regulations prohibited foreign natural or legal persons and foreign-owned Moroccan companies from owning farming lands. Thus, foreign operators were only able to exploit agricultural land through leasing contracts or emphyteutic censuses.
This is about to change as the aforementioned ban on acquiring agricultural land has been repealed by Law No. 62-19, which came into force this year.
This rule allows Moroccan limited companies (public limited companies) and corporations (partnerships limited by shares) to acquire agricultural land without any limitation, even if all of their share capital belongs to foreign shareholders. The acquisition of land must be authorized by a regional investment commission after the interested parties have presented an agricultural investment project to the said commission.
The timing of this shift is not accidental, as it opens new opportunities for Spanish and foreign agricultural funds and companies now that interest in investing in the agricultural sector is at an all-time high. The industry’s resilience to recent crises has led to more farm business acquisitions than ever before.
In fact, there are many companies in the sector which, despite the strict regulations in force so far, have made significant investments across the strait, given the attractiveness of the early production of certain fruits and vegetables and the particular socio-economic conditions that make Morocco a relevant player in products such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, beans and strawberries, among many other products. For example, following Brexit and the trade agreements concluded between Morocco and the United Kingdom, in January 2021, Moroccan exports of agricultural products to this country increased by 51% compared to the same month of the previous year. . This percentage skyrocketed to 459% in strawberry exports. For example, 75% of berries and 25% of tomatoes consumed in the UK currently come from Morocco, which already overtakes the Netherlands as the UK’s supplier of fruit and vegetables.
The law has already entered into force, but its effective application is subject to regulatory changes, which must regulate certain issues, such as the specifications with which the purchaser of the land must comply and the type of sales contract to be used.