MOROCCO – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing US$24 million in financing to Zalar Agri to help the company expand its fruit and nut growing operations, creating both permanent and seasonal jobs in Morocco’s countryside.

The financing includes a US$12 million C loan for IFC’s own account and a mobilization of a US$12 million B loan through IFC’s syndication program.

This impact project is considered important in a nation where rural poverty rates are twice those of urban areas and is part of Zalar Agri’s efforts to create jobs and spur export-led economic growth in rural Morocco.

“We are proud of this partnership with the IFC, a high-profile international investor who will allow us to reinforce our Group’s institutionalization and expand and diversify our farming operations into many highly-growing agricultural varieties, while enhancing in parallel our downstream capabilities”, said Farouk Chaouni, Chairperson of Zalar Agri.

“IFC’s support will also help us expand our processing operations and develop exports, creating good jobs and added value in the places that need them the most.”

IFC noted in a statement that Morocco’s farming sector employs 37 percent of Moroccans and the financing was therefore part of its broader push to spur the development of sustainable agriculture while at the same time helping local producers break into lucrative foreign markets.

“Poverty and unemployment remain major challenges in Morocco’s countryside,” said Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for the Middle East and Africa.

“By helping agriculture companies grow and enter new markets, we can foster the type of sustainable, inclusive growth that Morocco is striving for.”

Zalar Agri is one of the largest apple producers in Morocco (with a significant market share in the modern trade segment) and one of the country’s leading players in the agriculture sector overall, with well-established brands for apples and stone fruits.

IFC’s partnership with the company is part of an effort to support the growth of Morocco’s private sector and create economic opportunities for Moroccans.

Since 1962, IFC- a member of the World Bank Group – has been promoting inclusive private sector development and innovation to create markets in Morocco with advisory services and investments.