The first stop on the Agriculture Minister's trade mission is Morocco and the Middle East. Minister Gerry Ritz is strengthening trade ties in Morocco and promoting Canada's world class agricultural products. 

"In 2011 Morocco's agricultural imports from Canada totalled more than $188 million with durum wheat and pulses making up the majority of these sales," he says. "Canada is the top supplier of durum wheat to Morocco with nearly $175 million of durum wheat imported from Canada in 2011. We're here to grow that even further."

On the other hand, Ritz says the Moroccan agricultural and food market is growing and diversifying, offering new sales opportunities for Canadian farmers. Moroccan farmers are looking for world class Canadian genetics and agricultural innovations to strengthen it's industry.  He says Canada's overall goal is to secure a free trade agreement with Morocco. "I invited Moroccan officials to Canada in June to begin the third round of FTA negotiations. We know that an FTA will create jobs, prosperity and opportunity for our farm families in both countries and help strengthen our overall economy," he explains.  

Minister Ritz has the highest hospitality and travel tab in the government and it hasn't gone unnoticed.  When asked why he needed to physically be in Morocco, Ritz responded by saying it's better to actually be there, because talking with people in person is a lot more effective for negotiating. "Canadian producers export between 50-85% of what they grow, and well I would often rather be home with family over Thanksgiving and other holidays, and with my constituents on Canada Day, I'm out here leading trade missions because it's my privilege and responsibility to do that on behalf of Canadian farmers."