The food industry is on the rise

In essence, the severe turbulence that postcolonial Europe has been experiencing for some time, without being able to find solutions to them, show that the rules and principles, which have governed international relations since their establishment under Western aegis after the Second World War, have become obsolete.

That being said, if there is a Continent that did not have a voice during the implementation of the aforementioned rules, it is Africa. And for good reason, almost all of the territories of our Continent were at that time still under European colonial occupation. Then, in preparing for the fictitious independence of our countries, the Europeans took the Machiavellian precaution of replacing their military presence with a strategy of monopolizing the economic and commercial wealth of our colonized countries for their own profit. Nothing will have been left to chance in this strategy of greedy appropriation of our economic, financial, commercial and even cultural wealth by the master colonizers.

Thus, as for what matters to this blog, the health and similar standards — that the Europeans continue to impose on us directly for our exports to EU market or even in our inter-African trade through private organizations that are totally acquired to European standards — were designed, written and regularly updated and fine-tuned thereafter to the present day to (only) give the impression of scientific objectivity. The reality is that — by combining standards developed for  EU market with recommended use of specifically designated European procedures, laboratory equipment, chemicals and standards tailored to benefit European operators in the EU market — these specialists for drafting ambiguous standards have systematically managed to, while appearing neutral, reinforce their leeway to retain, whenever they wish, the decision that best suits them for the processing of our commercial exports (blocking, rejection, acceptance etc.) of food products (our archives).

In the end, the result is that our countries are still forced to sell their natural resources almost as is, for peanuts. When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, our weakness as exporters is even more marked due to the increased risk of rapid spoilage of these perishable foodstuffs. For example, although Morocco is well endowed by nature for the agri-food sector, today we are still selling our fresh products to Europeans who optimize them for their commercial life and resell them to us in Africa and elsewhere at speculative prices. It must be said and repeated, contrary to a perception of totally false French propaganda, it was never the intention of colonial or postcolonial France to initiate an agro-industry on a sound basis for a benefit shared with the Moroccans. We can recall that we had to wait for the end of the Cold War and the establishment, at the beginning of the 1990s, of a program of American assistance and aid, through USAID, so that Morocco became better informed on the structural weaknesses which have always hindered, among other things, the industrial processing in our country of aromatic and medicinal plants, that of olives and others. It is impossible that colonial France was not fully aware of these obstacles on the path of development desired by Morocco. But, in our view, the successive concerned officials of French State, who received money for their advice, have always chosen to overlook these and other obstacles in order to continue to benefit exclusively from our wealth.

This behavior is applied by other European decision makers in colonial Africa, notably West Africa, previously under French domination. It is useful to remember at this level that, with regard to agri-food sector, the French position on standards within the EU is preponderant.

Today, there is a broad convergence of views internationally on the fact we are making great strides towards a new balance between nations to replace the world order imposed by the West nearly eighty years ago. The United States of America and China are expected to have the lion’s share in the economic and commercial management of this new international order to come. Also, taking into account its geostrategic status and the considerable amount of its natural resources, Russia will, in all likelihood, continue to play an important role on the international level, perhaps momentarily alongside China.

On the other hand, Europe, without notable own resources and at the end of its rope, should be left behind in this new division which is looming for the world of tomorrow.

In this regard, the authors of an article in Der Spiegel dated September 22 (see here), frankly predict the inevitable impoverishment of Germany and, consequently, that of Europe as a whole in the years to come. However, some European officials, French in particular, continue to dream of the maintaining of European prosperity by betting on improved trade with Africa. Knowing that currently France and the EU use all the goods we have at will, it is not clear what this improvement in Europe’s trade with our Continent really means if not more impoverishment for our African citizens.

Be that as it may, Europeans forget, or pretend to have amnesia, that after several centuries of an occupation that borders on outright slavery, we Africans now wish to taste other economic and less toxic commercial partnership than those people have continuously subjected us to for centuries.

For example, Mr. Joe Biden, the American President, will host next December in Washington, D.C., African Heads of State and Government for a summit which lists among the priorities to be discussed food security. The availability of food in an equitable manner is very important to us in Africa since it is in our continent where there is the greatest number of famines and malnutrition. In this context, it may be reasonable to consider that during this summit, the Americans will gladly accept to offering aid and assistance to improve the circuit of inter-African trade in food products and other goods to give a boost to the establishment of Zlecaf (African Continental Free Trade Area). Morocco is obviously a fervent defender of the establishment of this free trade area with fellow African countries. This is evidenced by the hundreds of cargo trailers, many of which are loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables that leave our country every day for sub-Saharan countries. But again, these products must be consumed quickly before they are lost. It would be different if these foodstuffs had received treatments to guarantee their commercial life. But, this is where the shoe pinches. Knowing that Zlecaf is not yet operational and that moreover, and for lack of an alternative, it is still the aforementioned colonial norms that still govern our inter-African trade in processed products through private bodies imposed by EU, we remain doubly at the mercy of principals in Paris and Brussels. To get out of this straitjacket, it would be necessary to put on the table alternative standards to the standards imposed by EU which are more objective and better.

In this regard, FDA provided assistance to Europe after World War II to rebuild official European control bodies that had lost everything during the war. It would be surprising, if asked formally, that Americans would decline to help Africa set up its own adult and objective control bodies. The request should, in our opinion, be formulated in the rules by an equivalent body to FDA in which African countries and America have complete confidence. Of course, Morocco has a free trade agreement with the US which has been running since 2006. Someone can assume that ONSSA (Office National de Sécurité Sanitaire des Produits Alimentaires), has had plenty of time to prove itself to be a credible partner to FDA. It seems the reality is unfortunately quite different.

Among the nonsense committed by ONSSA, I remember having had in my hands copy of a note sent by this supervisory body on the Moroccan agri-food sector to embassies in Rabat asking them to send it notices written in French relating to food articles they wish to export to Morocco!

The approach is firstly inappropriate for an organization of the stature of ONSSA to address ambassadors directly, without going through its hierarchies. Then, pseudo ONSSA officials are unaware that if France itself has something useful to say in scientific field, it hastens to publish it first in English. So, do we want to be more royalist than kings within ONSSA! Luckily ridicule does not kill. Also, it is not with this kind of behavior that our supervisory body will improve its brand image with FDA or before other equivalent African bodies.

But it may not be too late for Morocco to correct the situation.

Finally, we recall about the title of this article that Europeans began to emigrate to our countries and to America because they were cold and hungry and their countries could not feed their inhabitants. Once gentrified, these European emigrants then reduced the importance of the agri-food sector to feed them cheaply at our expense and, on the contrary, sell us a large part of their junk at speculative prices fixed by them. Today, they feel that the danger of being cold and hungry again is once more back home. It is up to us not to be fooled for the umpteenth time and to demand fair compensation for our work and for our export.