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The price of Europe getting high

Moroccan negotiators tried to exclude wheat from the proposed free trade pact with the US – and failed – but one flourishing export from Morocco was not discussed at all, even though the country is the world's largest producer.

Not far from Europe's southern shore, and close to the point where the proposed tunnel linking Africa to Europe would exit, are the world's largest fields of marijuana. Cannabis has been grown in the mountains around Rif for centuries, but its production is on the increase. Two-thirds of Europe's supply of the drug is said to originate here.

A comparison of prices explains why farmers prefer cannabis to other crops. "We receive only around Dr250 ($25) for 100kg of wheat," says a farmer who wants to be identified only as Abdullah. "A hundred kilos of cannabis will bring in more like Dr15,000 dirhams, and the crop is no harder to grow."

It is not just the farmers who are exercised about the price of wheat and wheat products. Moroccan bakers launched a 48-hour strike in January in an attempt to pressure the government to allow them to raise bread prices. A similar move in 1981 triggered bloody riots.

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