Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bringing home the bacon - Moroccan style!

One of the last things you would expect to find in Morocco is a pig farm. Given that the consumption of pork is a religious taboo it may come as a surprise that this is a growth industry. And the reason? Tourism. With millions of tourists flocking to Morocco, the demand for pork products, sausages, bacon and ham has risen to an all time high.

According to a pig farmer quoted by AFP the business has causes no ethical problems.
'I'm a practising Muslim. 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,' he said of raising pigs -- whose consumption is prohibited in both Islam and Judaism.

Outlawed in Algeria, Mauritania and Libya, pig farming is nonetheless authorised in Tunisia as in Morocco, to cater to the flocks of European and other non-Muslim tourists who head to north Africa's spectacular beaches and deserts.

'Our clientele is 98 percent European. They want bacon for breakfast, ham for lunch and pork chops for dinner,' said Ahmad Bartoul, a buyer for a large Agadir hotel. Signs are posted on buffet tables to avoid any confusion about the meat's origin.

The industry which raises around five thousand pigs raised on seven farms located near Agadir, Casablanca and the north-central city of Taza is run by a very Moroccan mixture of individuals - a Christian, two Jews and four Muslims!

Annual production is currently estimated at 270 tonnes of meat, bringing in some 12 million dirhams (1 million euros, 1.6 million dollars) in revenue.

The Jewish breeder, Jean Yves Yoel Chriquia, owns the country's main pork processing factory along with a farm of 1,000 pigs. Chriquia also buys pigs from local farmers at 22 dirhams a kilo.

Four times a month, he goes to the slaughter house in Agadir - but must enter from a door other than that used for deliveries of meat that is Halal, or authorised under Islam.

'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,' Yoel said.

Almost 80 percent of his products are earmarked for hotels in Agadir and Marrakech. The rest heads to supermarkets and butcher shops -- and to feed some 220 Chinese workers building a nearby motorway.

'My wife was certain we would never find pork because we were in a Muslim country,' said French retiree Bernard Samoyeau, as he ordered pork at from a butcher in Agadir. 'We have been pleasantly surprised.'

Yoel is also pleased.

'We have more than doubled our sales in three years and it's starting to snowball. But since we rely on tourism, we must be careful,' he said.

Nor does he see a conflict between his job and his Jewish faith.

'Religion is a private matter. What I do is just another way to earn a living and my Rabbi has never said anything about it,' he said.



Anonymous said...

I have never seen a single pig here in Yemen; it's most unlikely any one would dare raise pigs here. It would be so provocative in this very conservative place.

Claire Townsend said...

My sister lives near Agadir, and is looking for bacon. Can she buy it direct from the pig farm?

Anonymous said...

Claire did your sister ever find bacon in Agadir? We are in Agadir and want some bacon.

Anonymous said...

they sell bacon in the marjane supermarket and other chain stores