Moroccan wheat imports are set to soar, as domestic production collapses to its lowest level in 8 years, US government officials said.
The US Department of Agriculture’s bureau in Rabat estimated the 2016-17 Moroccan wheat harvest at just 3.7m tonnes, down 54% from last year’s record harvest, thanks to “dry and hot conditions during crop establishment”.
This represents a sharp reversal of fortunes from the previous season’s record breaking harvest.
“With this year’s drought, wheat imports are expected to start earlier in the year,” the bureau said, as it forecast 2016-17 imports as high as 4m tonnes, which would be the third highest on record.
Hopes for the wheat harvest have been dashed by the low levels of rainfall in Morocco, as well as much of the Maghreb region.
“Grain production continues to depend heavily on rainfall because most of the production is rain-fed,” the bureau said.
The dry weather hit plantings, with seeded area falling by 40%, to 2.1m hectares, the lowest level in 15 years.
“With the dry conditions, importers anticipate the imports to be between 3.8m tonnes and 4m tonnes of bread wheat.”
The Rabat bureau has already pegged 2015-16 wheat imports at 3.0m tonnes, 200,000 tonnes above the USDA’s official forecast, due to anticipatory buying for the next season’s shortage.
The biggest beneficiaries of the increased imports are expected to be Ukraine and France.
“EU and Black Sea countries supply most of the common wheat, while Canada is the traditional supplier of durum wheat,” the bureau said.
Even with the heavy imports, local stocks are seen falling by nearly half, to 2.7m tonnes, in 2016-17, their lowest level in 4 years.
Barley bears brunt
Barley production, meanwhile, is expected to suffer even more.
The harvest for 2016-17 has been forecast at just 1.0, down from 3.3m tonnes in the previous season, and the lowest in 9 years.
Imports were seen soaring to an 18 year high of 700,000 tonnes.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/drought-to-slash-moroccan-wheat-production-by-half–9473.html)