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Morocco’s Drought-Imperiled Wheat Crop Points to Untimely Import Pressure

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Drought is ravaging Morocco’s soon-to-be harvested wheat crop and raising the prospect of another year of higher than usual wheat import needs. So far this year, total precipitation in Morocco’s rainfall-dependent wheat growing areas has been 44% below the 10-year average, and only scant rainfall is in the forecast

Morocco has long been a large wheat importer, averaging imports of 3 million tonnes of soft wheat a year for the last 10 years. But in 2022, Morocco’s wheat imports surged as dry growing conditions slashed its wheat yields by 60% year over year and by 45% from the preceding five-year average. 

For Morocco, low wheat production this year would be particularly problematic as domestic food price inflation is already up by 81% since January 2020, according to Gro’s Agricultural Price Inflation Application, and the country’s currency, the Moroccan dirham, has dropped 5.5% against the US dollar during the last year. The Moroccan dirham’s declines against the US dollar can further fuel domestic food price inflation as it erodes the country’s purchasing power.

Gro’s Food Security Tracker for Africa, set to Moroccan wheat, currently shows multiple years of low stocks-to-use, a key measure of supply crop availability and potential import needs.  

Currently, in Morocco’s wheat-growing areas, drought levels are higher than they were this time last year and soil moisture levels are at their lowest levels in more than two decades, as shown in this Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture display

Amid last year’s drought, Morocco has become the biggest importer of wheat from the European Union. According to Gro data, from June 2022 to January 2023 alone, Morocco imported 3.2 million tonnes of soft wheat, with nearly 70% of these imports coming from France.

France is one of the largest wheat producers and exporters in the EU. The success of France’s wheat crop impacts countries worldwide. Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for agriculture, weighted to France’s wheat growing regions, currently shows the highest NDVI reading since at least 2000, but continued drought in the region bears close watching. France’s wheat crops, which are harvested in July and August, are currently in the growing months that have the greatest significance on final yields. 

US wheat prospects are also at risk, as the winter wheat crop continues to face adverse conditions, as Gro highlighted here

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