Modeling the limitations and implicit costs of cereal self-sufficiency: the case of Morocco uri icon

abstract

  • High and volatile food prices in 2008 have led to renewed interest in national food security, particularly in the Arab world. One often discussed strategy is to reduce import dependency by increasing self-sufficiency. An alternative strategy is agricultural self-reliance, where revenues from export crops are sufficient to cover the costs of food imports. For countries with limited land and water resources and a comparative advantage in producing export crops rather than cereals, self-reliance (achieving food security through trade) may be more effective than aiming for self-sufficiency in cereals. This paper uses a simple model based on a production possibilities frontier to demonstrate the limitations and high costs of achieving self-sufficiency in cereals for Morocco. At current yield levels, Morocco is capable of achieving 85% self-sufficiency. With a 30% increase in yields the country could achieve self-sufficiency in the present, and with a 40% increase, achieve self-sufficiency until 2022. However, this would require land to be diverted from high value crops to cereals, with an opportunity cost exceeding US$10.3 billion in gross revenue during the period 2008-2022. Morocco and other Arab countries should consider these factors when they asses whether self-sufficiency is a reasonable policy objective, or whether self-reliance would be more appropriate. The model requires only very basic data, uses a simple maximization routine, and can be easily replicated in a wide variety of contexts.

publication date

  • 2011
  • 2011