News 1086 views last update:Mar 28, 2008

Moroccan pig farms bloom

This north-African Muslim country is experiencing a boost in pig farming thanks to a growing tourist industry and enthusiastic breeders.

"If there's tourism, it would be better to have pigs," said Samouk, a 39-year-old breeder, who raises 250 pigs at his farm 28 km from the seaside town of Agadir.

After his chicken flock was being destroyed by a wave of bird flu, the Moroccan farmer launched a pig operation 20 years ago in partnership with an elderly French man.

He dreams of doubling his production by 2010 when around 10 million tourists are expected to visit the country.

Consumption of pork is prohibited by Islam. Pig farming is permitted in Morocco and Tunesia to cater for the European tourists who flock there annually. In neighbouring Algeria and Libya, the practice is, however, outlawed.

I don't eat pork and I don't drink alcohol but it's just a breeding operation like any other and no Imam has ever reprimanded me for it," commented Samouk.

Ahmad Bartoul, a buyer for a large Agadir hotel, stated that 98% of the clientele is European. "They want bacon for breakfast, ham for lunch and pork chops for dinner."

The country's swine industry is composed of 5,000 pigs. They are scattered across seven farms near Agadir, Casablanca and the north-central city of Taza.

Annual production amounts to 270 tonnes equalling around €1m in revenue.

The main breeders include Jean Yves Yoel Chriquia, a 32-year-old Jew who owns the country's main pork processing factory along with a farm of 1,000 pigs. Chriquia also buys pigs from Samouk and another local farmer at 22 dirhams (€1.90) a kilo.

'We have a special place for this sort of slaughter. After cutting up the meat and getting the veterinarian's stamp, we transport it to the factory and put it in cold storage," he said.

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