MOROCCO – The Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture has announced that the projected production of key cereals, including soft wheat, durum wheat, and barley, for the 2023/2024 agricultural season is estimated at 31.2 million quintals, marking a staggering 43% decline compared to the previous year.

The area sown has also decreased significantly by 33%, now covering 2.47 million hectares, with a harvestable area of 1.85 million hectares.

The breakdown for this season’s cereal production includes 17.5 million quintals of soft wheat, 7.1 million quintals of durum wheat, and 6.6 million quintals of barley.

Major contributions come from the regions of Fez-Meknes, Rabat-Sale-Kenitra, and Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, which collectively account for 84% of the nation’s total production.

As of May 22, cumulative rainfall measured 237 millimeters, 31% below the annual average. Agricultural dams are currently filled to only 31% capacity.

The Ministry highlighted that the current agricultural season faced severe adverse climatic conditions, impacting the sowing of autumn crops.

Adding to the discourse, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture issued a report last month projecting a significant rise in imports for the 2024-25 season.

Total wheat production is estimated at 2.3 million tonnes, 45% lower than last year while barley production is estimated at 600,000 tonnes, 52% lower than last year.

To avert a potential crisis, the North African nation is bracing for a sharp uptick in imports, as domestic production slides due to adverse weather.

Wheat imports are estimated at 7.5 million tonnes, a 52% increase from Morocco’s 10-year import average, the FAS said

According to the report, barley imports are also projected to soar, with an estimated 1.5 million tons expected to flow into the country, up from 1.2 million tons in the prior year.

Meanwhile, domestic importers are attempting to diversify their procurement strategies in response to mounting instability and payment issues with Black Sea suppliers.

In addition, the government, through the National Grain Agency (ONICL), has taken measures to incentivize grain imports with subsidies.

In the previous season, a substantial 80% of Morocco’s wheat imports originated from European Union nations.

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