Morocco's cereals crop may fall to 3 million tonnes: Paper
Reuters, Tuesday 3 Apr 2012
Drought is likely to take a hefty toll on the North African country's agriculture, reports a pro-government daily

Morocco's cereals harvest in 2012 may fall to as low as 3 million tonnes due to the effects of drought, the pro-establishment Le Matin newspaper reported on Tuesday citing estimates from the agriculture ministry.

The ministry's spokespersons could not be reached to comment the report.

"According to forecasts from the agriculture ministry, the cereals harvest [this year] should stand at between 3 and 4 million tonnes," Le Matin said.

Last month, the head of the country's agricultural research institute told Reuters that the cereals harvest would not reach half of last year's 8.4 million tonnes, while cereals demand stands at some 7 million tonnes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture later projected Morocco's wheat import needs to exceed 5 million tonnes this year from 3.2 million tonnes for the previous campaign.

Barley imports are projected to almost double to 1 million tonnes.

Last year's harvest included 4.17 million tonnes of soft wheat, 1.85 million tonnes of durum wheat and 2.34 million tonnes of barley.

The shortage comes at a sensitive time for the North African country's $100-billion economy, which relies on agriculture for 14 per cent of its output.

Agriculture employs 40 per cent of the 11-million workforce in Morocco, one of the world's ten biggest cereal importers, which relies heavily on rain due mostly to the predominance of subsistence and rudimentary farming.