Morocco sees good harvest after double 2016 rainfall

RABAT, Morocco (Reuters) — Recent rainfall in Morocco is expected to yield a favourable crop harvest this season after last year’s drought, which has been recorded as the worst in three decades, the country’s agriculture ministry said.

With an increase in average national rainfall to 287 milli-metres, up 136 percent from last year’s average of 122 mm, the ministry statement said the impact was “positive” for vegetation, dam-filling rates and ground-water levels.

This season’s rain comes after last year’s abnormally dry weather across North Africa, which slashed the country’s cereal harvest last season to 3.35 million tonnes, down 70 percent from the previous record of 11 million tonnes.

Last year’s drought was the worst in 30 years, according to the government.

Seeded grain-dedicated lands were 12.63 million acres at the start of the campaign, exceeding earlier expectations of 12.36 million acres, including 44 percent of soft wheat, 35 percent of barley and 21 percent of durum wheat.

Wheat is a key commodity in daily life in Morocco, and agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

It is the source of employment for nearly 35 percent of the country’s workforce.

The government said it expects the economy to grow by 4.5 percent in 2017, based on a cereals harvest of seven million tonnes.

Morocco was the third largest buyer of Canadian durum in the 2016 calendar year, buying 623,696 tonnes worth $228.4 million.

Algeria was number one and Italy number two.

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