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Morocco will have to import 5 million tons of soft wheat in 2023

Faced with the water stress hanging over Morocco, the Maghreb government will be forced to import up to 5 million tonnes, according to Yann Lebeau, Maghreb region manager of the professional group of French cereal exporters.

Lebeau, who will travel to Casablanca next month as part of the annual meeting with Moroccan grain traders, revealed that France exported one million tonnes to Morocco this summer. “France alone exported more than a million tonnes of common wheat to Morocco this summer and should have sold up to 2.5 million tonnes to the North African country by the end of the year. end of the year,” said Lebeau, who was speaking ahead of Intercereals’ annual meeting with Moroccan traders, scheduled in Casablanca next month.

Drought reduced Morocco’s cereal harvest by 67% in 2022, to 3.4 million tonnes, including 1.89 million tonnes of soft wheat, the country’s main staple. It should be noted that over the last decade, Morocco has imported an average of 3 million tons per year of common wheat.

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According to two Moroccan industry sources, soft wheat reserves now cover 5 months of Morocco’s needs, adding however that efforts to build up additional stocks have been delayed by higher prices on the international market compared to 2021 levels.

The soft wheat import bill doubled in the first seven months of this year to $1.6 billion from the same period last year, according to foreign exchange data. This rise in wheat prices prompted the government to double the subsidy budget to 32 billion dirhams this year, compared to 16 billion in the previous budget.

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It should also be noted that in addition to common wheat, Morocco controls the prices of sugar and cooking gas. In an effort to keep flour prices at their level, Morocco has continued to suspend customs duties on soft wheat, a move traders expect to last as long as prices remain high.

Morocco’s growth forecast has been reduced to 1.5% this year, according to the government, from 7.9% in 2021 following the repercussions of the country’s worst drought in about three decades. Thus, the government based its draft 2023 budget on a growth forecast of 4.5%, assuming average rainfall and a cereal harvest of 7.5 million tonnes.