From packaging and transformation station to exported country via International Road Transport (TIR)

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Morocco current situation

The Kingdom of Morocco is located in North Africa, bordering with Algeria, Western Sahara, Spain and coasting with the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Morocco is a developing country, with an increasing economy and international relevance carried by exports, a boom in private investment and tourism. Geographically, large deserts, lengthy coastline and craggy mountains in the interior spread around the country. The climate differs from north to south, ranging from wetter to drier weather respectively.
Consistent regulatory framework, advantageous commercial and diplomatic relations with other countries such as EU and USA, proximity to potential and develop markets (EU) and economic resilience to agricultural vulnerability have pushed the economy. Although, Morocco faces several challenges that hinders its growth. Some of them are internal, like rural and urban standards gap, poverty and young unemployment [4]. However, others are the consequence of external factors, like market health and climate change. Particularly, the latter is predicted to have a massive impact on Morocco (and North Africa in general). Forecasts estimates a decrease between 10 and 20% in precipitations and an increase between 2 and 3ºC in temperature [5]. Morocco, with an economy strongly based on high water intensity agriculture, will most likely suffer the consequences of this phenomenon due to the decrease in water availability, soil and water pollution.

Agriculture in Morocco

Morocco’s agriculture production has experience recently a big increase in terms of yield thanks to Le Maroc Vert (Green Morocco Plan), a multidimensional strategy that strengths the Green Economic Growth in Morocco by investing and supporting sustainable production and climate change adaptation and mitigation actions [6]. Morocco has a long tradition on agriculture exploitation, contributing to around 15% of Morocco’s GDP and employing ,with fishing and forestry sector, about 45% of the total workforce in 2015 [7]. Historically, Morocco’s agricultural products have been growing on importance in economic terms, growing from 20.000 to over 30.000 MAD, as Figure 2 shows [8].

Life cycle analysis suitability

Due to the uncontrolled depletion of non-renewable and highly pollutant resources plus the dependency on foreign countries to supply the fossil fuels, the interest on methodical approaches to understand and estimate the footprint of the current system have increase. As agriculture’s footprint is variable and tricky to estimate due to the globality of the market and the data uncertainty, many methods were suggested that stablish the path to conduct this investigation. Among them, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) has raised as the most respected and common used method since its standardization (ISO 14040, ISO 14044).
The core idea of LCA is to evaluate the impact over the environment of a product, process or activity along its life cycle by the quantification of the resources and emissions associated with the system that is evaluating. It covers all the life stages: extraction, production, distribution, use and end of life (recycle, reuse, elimination/disposition of residues/waste).
As specified in previous chapters, the scope of this master thesis is set only in the postharvest phase. This entails that the research only considers this stage, obviating the remaining stages as production and others mentioned before. In this case, LCA methodology is used as pathway to undergo the evaluation of the energy cost, economic cost and emissions associated to the tomato postharvest to offer sustainable alternatives.


Due to the nature of this study and the impossibility to travel to the targeted area to collect some of the data “on site”, all the information showed and processed along the report was collected from previous researches, governmental sites, open access GIS layers and other mediums. As the authors did not have the opportunity to certify this data by their own experience, it has been used alternative sources and researches from different authors to validate it.

Souss-Massa’s administrative boundaries

Since the data has to be in geographical format (GIS) for modelling purposes, several private and public open data servers with Morocco’s administrative boundaries shapefiles were visited. As the mentioned change of borders occurred relatively recently, no update data was available. Hence, the final map used to process the data (Global Administrative Areas [22], validated by Openstreetmap [23]) was readjusted from a general map of Morocco, using ArcGIS tools to readjust it to the new division. Figure 7 shows the representation of Souss-Massa region and provinces as seen in ArcGIS.
Once the scope of this study is clear and the geographical boundaries set, all post-harvesting processes were identified, following every route that the crop takes from the production site until its final destination.

Modelling post harvesting activities

85% of Morocco’s tomato production surface is grouped in the region of Souss-Massa [24]. Historically, the cultivation of tomato in Souss-Massa was mainly dominated by families with small open-air farms and, hence, low production. In recent years, big export companies have taken over the ownership of tomato production due to two reasons:
– The competitiveness of the international market, offering economies of scale advantages to vertical integrated business models [25] which displaced small farms with low access to packaging, transport and commercial partners.
– The propagation of tomato yellow leaf curl virus in 1999 [26]. This virus can only be controlled in greenhouses. Hence, the producers who could not afford the restructure of its farm into greenhouse or the construction of new one, got relieved. In 2017, 98% of tomato total farm’s surface was under GHs [27].
In this study, due to the irrelevant tomato production on open-air farms, only greenhouses were considered. Previous studies located the majority of greenhouses at the south of Agadir [28], as Figure 8 shows. With the aim of calculating the distances via ArcGIS, the layer “buildings” from Mapcruzin, which holds information of the ports, cities, villages, main buildings and relevant locations, was added. The representation of the greenhouses found in this layer are represented in Figure 9 .

Local market

There are two main fruits and vegetables markets, located in Oulad Teima and Inezgane [28]. Most of tomato production intended to local consumption goes to one of them and from there it is distributed along the country. For carefully locating the two markets, the shapefile “Places” (by OCHA Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, in Humdata webpage) was used.

Packaging and storing stations

In the export case, packaging and storing plays a crucial role of the process as it ensures the preservation and quality of the produce while it also serves of merchandising to promote the name of the region. In Morocco, especially in Souss-Massa, there has been a big investment to meet the quality standards of Europe and other international markets. The quality legislation and control are responsibility of the autonomous public organism called “L’Établissement Autonome de Contrôle et de Coordination des Exportations” (E.A.C.C.E). The high standards imposed by E.A.C.C.E. about sanitary conditions and minimum capacity has help to modernize the installations, gradually eliminating small stations and replacing them with new ones equipped with advance technology and higher capacity.
There are 101 packaging and storing stations in Souss-Massa [30]. According to the chamber of commerce, 20 of them are located in Taroudant province and 81 in Inezgane [31]. Due to the lack of accurate data, Inezgane and Taroudant were considered as the location of the packaging and storing stations inside their respective province. Again, “Places” shapefile from Humdata was employed to locate these cities.
In the past year till now, there has been a renovation of the infrastructure and machinery employed for the packaging of tomato. Still the stations are not standardized. Modern stations have all the process automatized and equipped with specific lines per product. Most of them have a quality certification of their installation and services (ISO 9001). Old and small stations use a conveyer belt to bring the produce to the worker and handle all sort of vegetables and fruits.
Non-returnable packages are the most common type, being the corrugated carton the most used with more than 85%, followed by the wood package with an 8% share and the plastic package with a marginal representation [20].
Once the product is package and palletized, it is stored in a refrigeration chamber till the trucks come to pick up the pallets and transport it to foreign countries.
The direct energy consumed during packaging varies depending on the packaging technology available and the type of package employed. The critical data for our purpose is to break down the packaging steps and their energy consumption per kilo of the different packaging treatments depending on the material of the package. As a final result, 1,588 MJeq/kg provided by a packaging and storing station that works with cardboard boxes within the region was used [32]. This value englobes the conditioning, packaging and palletizing (englobed in this study as packaging) and the storing.
The average time that the pallets expend in the refrigerated room is 20 hours at a 8-9 ºC. As a result, the energy expended to refrigerate the tomatoes per kilo is 0.246 MJeq/kg [21].
Hence, the packaging energy coefficient is the result of subtracting the storing energy coefficient to the packaging and storing coefficient, resulting in a consumption of 1.342 MJeq/kg.
All the activities described in this chapter are fuelled by electricity.


Transformation stations

As mentioned before, the surface dedicated to the cultivation of industrial tomato has declined in recent years. International markets prefer to acquire the product before transformation, which has led to a decrease of tomato processed, having a testimonial contribution to the current total tomato consumed locally and exported.
There are three transformation stations in Morocco, with one of them inside Souss-Massa, in the capital city, Agadir [33].
The tomatoes are transformed into double concentrated paste. The process that performs this activity was not provided nor found by other sources. Instead, the average energy consumption of the whole process was found, 4.749 MJel/kg [34].


The structure of the tomatoes chain in Souss Massa has been drawn following the study made by (S.Payen, 2016), where all the different paths that tomatoes from the gate of the farms may take are explained. They are divided into three main channels:
• Direct Market, when tomatoes are sold directly from the farmer to the local market.
• Directly Delivery, when farmers are delivering directly to the packaging station.
• Buyer, when is the export company that buy directly from the farm gate.
Figure 11 shows the flows of tomatoes (in Tons) over the last seven years was build using different data source provided by different local agencies [35].

From GHs to local market

The type of vehicles utilized for this purpose is small trucks, car with trailer or truck [20]. The energy coefficient of this type of vehicles is simplified to a common one, 4km/l fully loaded with 5.62 tons
[37]. As every trip has a return to load again the freight vehicle and restart the journey, a different coefficient was applied as in the return trip the vehicle is empty, multiplying the previous coefficient by 1.5 to discount in fuel per km [38].

From GHs to packaging and transformation station

The methodology implemented to estimate the energy consumption of transportation from GHs to transformation stations is the same as the previous methodology. Roads and GHs location shapefile is the same as in previous chapter as well as the mean of transport used. Packaging and transformation stations are located in Inezgane and Taroudant.
The trucks used in this stage have bigger capacity as the production is controlled by big organized companies, that control multiple GHs, therefore the pick-up of the produce is organized to cover larger number of crops per trips. The energy coefficient of these trucks is of 3.2 km/l with a 24 ton of capacity [37]. For the return trip, the same coefficient from previous chapter is applied, multiplying 3.2 km/l by 1.5.

From packaging and transformation station to port

One of the two type of international transport utilize is the maritime transport. Souss-Massa port is placed in Agadir, being the main gateway and point of export for goods from south Morocco [39]. As previously explained, all the packaged tomato is exported, and no tomato can be exported without being enclosed in a certified package. Therefore, all the produce received and exported in Agadir port comes from the packaging and transformation stations. The location of the packaging and transformation stations was specified in previous chapter. The port of Figure 18: Location of the Agadir’s centre and port Agadir is located inside the city of Agadir, represented as a black triangle in Figure 18.
The package tomato is transported inside non refrigerated big trucks due to the proximity between the packaging and transformation stations and the port [20]. Trucks energy coefficient is the same as in previous chapter: 3.2 km/l loaded.

Table of contents :

1. Introduction
1.1. Sustainable development concept and importance
1.2. Sustainable agriculture
1.3. Morocco current situation
1.3.1. Agriculture in Morocco
1.3.2. Energy situation
1.4. Souss-Massa region, Morocco
1.4.1. Souss Massa tomatoes
1.4.2. Souss Massa Post-harvest of Tomato
1.5. Stakeholders
1.6. Study boundaries
1.6.1. Geographical boundaries
1.6.2. Types of energy considered
1.7. Literature review
1.8. Goals
2. Methodology
2.1. Life cycle analysis suitability
2.2. Datasets
2.2.1. Souss-Massa’s administrative boundaries
2.2.2. Modelling post harvesting activities Tomato production in greenhouses Local market Packaging and storing stations Transformation stations
2.3. Modelling
2.3.1. Flows
2.3.2. Postharvest distribution
2.3.3. Transport
2.3.4. Packaging, Storing and Transformation From GHs to local market From GHs to packaging and transformation station From packaging and transformation station to port From packaging and transformation station to exported country via International Road Transport (TIR)
2.3.5. Tomato Waste
2.3.6. GridFrom packaging and transformation station to exported country via International Road Transport (TIR) Grid Efficiency
2.3.8. Revenues and Energy Cost
2.4. Scenarios
2.4.1. Business as Usual (BAU)
2.4.2. Efficient transport scenario (ET)
2.4.3. Waste reduction transport scenario (WR)
3. Results
3.1. Current situation
3.2. Efficient Transport Scenario
3.3. Tomato Waste Reduction scenario
4. Discussion
4.1. Current Situation
4.2. Transport Scenarios
4.3. Limitations of the study
4.4. Future work
5. Bibliography .


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