Morocco Harvest Seen Up 20 Percent

01/06/11 -- Morocco, the third-largest wheat buyer in North Africa, is set for a bumper harvest this year reducing the country's need for imports, say the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.

The wheat harvest is seen rising 20% to 5.9 MMT from 4.9 MMT in 2010, whilst barley production is expected to amount to 3.1 MMT, also an increase of 20%, the FAO said.

"Timely and good rains during land preparation and plantings led to an increase in planted area. About 4.9 million hectares have been planted to wheat (2.2 million hectares of soft wheat and 1.5 million hectares of durum wheat) and 1.6 million hectares with barley," they say.

"Moreover, soil moisture levels have generally been adequate to meet the crops’ water requirement since the beginning of the growing season, allowing satisfactory crop development in main producing zones," they added.

Harvesting begins this month.

The country’s overall grain imports are forecast to fall by more than a quarter to 4.44 MMT in 2011-12 from 6.04 MMT in the current marketing year, the FAO say.