Opinion

Morocco’s Cereal Production to Increase in 2021

Published Mar 23, 2021
According to the Ministry of Agriculture in Morocco, the country is headed for a good 2020/2021 agriculture campaign. The establishment of fall season crops experienced good momentum towards the end of 2020. There is a predominance of mechanical tillage, which covered nearly 94% of the cultivated area, and to date, the total area sown is dominated by cereals, 86%. This is set to lead to a bumper harvest of grains this year. Tridge interviewed Zakaria Tarhi, an Import and Export Coordinator at Arkas Maroc, to gain further insight.

Mechanical tillage and good weather boost cereal production

Area sowed with fall cereals

Source: USDA

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the area sown with fall cereals at the end of the sowing period will come to 4.3 million hectares and comprise 44% soft wheat, 34% barley, and 22% durum wheat. Good rains during the end of November and December 2020 accelerated sowing to reach 3 million hectares. The use of agricultural invention has rapidly accelerated in the country, with farmers utilizing mechanized farming methods to improve cereal production. The 2020-2021 agriculture season will help Morocco’s economy recover following the crisis caused by COVID-19 and the drought experienced in 2020. The World Bank forecasts a 4% growth in the country’s economy in 2021 due to increased agricultural production.

According to Tarhi, agricultural production in Morocco suffered from drought and lack of rainfall last season, resulting in dams suffering from a chronic water shortage that impacted Morocco’s supply of drinking water and irrigation. The country’s harvest of cereals in 2020 was less than 50% compared to 2019, resulting in hundreds of millions of extra import costs. However, due to heavy rainfall, the country’s 2020-2021 agricultural season shows bountiful harvest. The recent rains have positively impacted the agriculture sector, improving farming conditions, the quality of the product and vegetation in pastoral areas, and the increased demand for seeds. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the dam reserves for agricultural use have accumulated compared to last year, from 6.22 billion ㎥ the previous year to 5.81 billion ㎥ this January.

Market implications

Moroccan wheat imports by Marketing Year

Source: USDA

Morocco is one of the top global wheat importers, purchasing 4.6 million MT during 2019/20 MY. Earlier estimates, reported in June 2020, forecasted Morocco’s wheat imports to increase by 35% and reach 6.2 million MT during 2020/21 MY. However, these estimates were made at a time when the country was undergoing a severe drought, and wheat production had been expected to decrease. Heavy rains boosted the wheat crops towards the end of 2020 and during the first few months of 2021. According to Tarhi, given that a bumper wheat harvest is now expected, imports are expected to decrease significantly. France and Ukraine control the largest share of the Moroccan common wheat market, and Canada holds the durum wheat market. Given the increase in wheat production in Morocco this year, wheat suppliers should expect significantly lower export figures than those of the previous year.

Tarhi spoke positively regarding the progress in the country with regards to production; however, he felt further work is needed with regards to exports.

“Yes, production has increased significantly, but we need to connect our products with the global market. More needs to be done to support trade, “ added Tarhi.

Sources:

> Morocco World News. “Morocco’s Agricultural Production to Increase in 2021.

> Morocco World News. “Morocco’s Agricultural Sector Shows Promising Signs After Recent Heavy Rainfall.

> USDA. “Grain and Feed Update.

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