We are back for our 6th part in this series. Now, Lillian has spoken to Polisario Front and heard at length about the fight for independence. Lillian also looked at why so much phosphate is used in NZ, whether that is appropriate and whether there are alternatives possible. Lillian has managed to get a hold of someone from the New Zealand Fertiliser Quality Council who is also a beef and sheep farmer - but that is a chat we will hear down the track, and she is currently trying to get hold of UN representative who can speak on the matter. Today we have somebody from the Moroccan side of things.
Hajobouha Zoubier is the President of the Phosboucraa Foundation. This is a subsidiary of OCP - Morocco’s OCP Group is the world’s largest supplier of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilsers. Their company brochures state that approximately 2% of OCP’s "managed reserves are located in the Southern provinces of Morocco at Boucraa – where most of New Zealand’s phosphate rock comes from." The brochure explains that the "Phosboucraa Foundation was established in 2014 to carry out Phosboucraa’s corporate sustainability programmes in the region, supporting local communities through the reinforcement of education, training, access to healthcare, entrepreneurship, agriculture, culture and sports, as well as urban development."
When I originally got in touch with Ravensdown last year, they put me onto a representative for OCP who is the company Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients buy phosphate from. The representative, who is a strategic communication specialist for SenateSHJ, explained that they couldn’t speak on behalf of the company, but that they could help facilitate comment. He also said there was a delegation heading to NZ in February 2020 of some publicly elected Saharawi politicians and the president of OCP’s Phosboucraa Foundation - an NGO running a range of education, health, cultural and economic development programmes in what he called Southern Morocco. Looking at the map I saw that Boucraa mine is the mine in what I had understood to be the Western Sahara where OCP, who sells to NZ, mines phosphate in order to sell on. The figures they gave me show the Boucraa mine makes up 2% of their phosphate reserves, and 75 percent of the employees of the mine are locals from that region. It also stated that 100% of the revenue made from the Phosboucraa mine is reinvested locally.
We agreed that when the group came to NZ we would set up a time to speak and that we did. Originally, it was organised so that I would speak with Mbarka Bouaida, who is a native of Southern Sahara and was elected last year as the President of the Guelmim Oued Noun region, the first woman in the country elected as a regional President. The SenateSHJ representative indicated she would be able to speak to the wider geopolitical issues of the region as well as her own experiences in the area.
On the day of the interview however, we had to readjust as Bouaida was not available so instead I spoke with Hajbouha Zoubeir the President of the Phosboucraa Foundation. At the start of the interview it was pointed out that Hajbouha would not be able to speak to the wider geopolitical issues so while she could talk in general terms, if it got too political, she would have to say that is a question for the government and not for OCP or the foundation. The representative of SenateSHJ stated they would remain on the line during the interview for “any translation or language issues”. I flag that here as throughout the interview the communication specialist has some input that provides wider context and information necessary to understand the issue, but they indicated it would be inappropriate to use their voice so I will be voicing this myself.
This is Part VI in a series, you can listen to the others here: