“Foodie Fridays” are dedicated to my two great loves: food and Fridays. In these posts, I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite varieties of Moroccan and North African cuisine.
Pack your bags, Pooh Bear, because the Kingdom of Morocco is quickly blossoming into one of the world’s leading exporters of that viscous golden goodness we call honey. In Morocco, an average of 200 grams of honey are consumed per person, per year.
If you’re struggling to visualize this amount, picture a standard coffee mug (10 to 11 ounces). Now, imagine that you’re dumping pure honey into the mug, leaving maybe an inch of space at the top. Now that your imaginary coffee mug is nearly brimming with imaginary honey, envision yourself DRINKING it (Just kidding. Don’t do that, sicko.). However, if you really did this, you’d be holding the average amount of honey that one Moroccan consumes per year (and that’s only the average)!
Demand for honey surges during Ramadan, where almost every household prepares honey-laden desserts for Iftar; desserts like Baklava, Qatayef, and Chebakia are often drenched in the stuff. This is great news for the country, because the honey industry is an important contributor to its economy.
“In recent years, there was some climate change that resulted in a reduction of honey production,” says Mohamed Dhaili, a beekeeper and honey merchant. “Thanks to the help of both the National Initiative for Human Development, and to the Green Plan that came at the right time, each one contributed to better beekeeping, and also to an increase in the number of bees,” he says. The Green Plan was instigated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to boost the country’s agricultural sector. The plan currently contributes to about 19% of the Gross national product, with around 15% coming from agriculture, and some 4% coming from agro-industry. The strategy has been widely successful, with the creation of approximately 100,000 new jobs since the program’s launch in 2008.
With an estimated rise in global temperatures of around 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit per year (according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies), the Green Plan has provided training for beekeepers to mitigate the losses they might experience from climate change. This training has generally been lucrative, but eucalyptus, one of the honeybee’s main sources of nectar, has suffered as a result. Psyllids (i.e. aphids, i.e. jumping lice, i.e. TINY DEVILS) are originally from Australia, but due to globalization and warming temperatures, they have found their way into every nook and cranny of the world, including Morocco’s honey farms.
Agricultural expert Abdelkrim Naaman says that “prices of honey have increased by 5,200%” due to this insect’s infestation. “Its eggs suck water from the tree leaves, resulting in the trees becoming yellow and dying,” he says. Nevertheless, the government believes the country can overcome this problem, and honey producers agree that it’s only a matter of time before Morocco leads the world in the production of this tasty golden treat.