Focus on Morocco | Cereals of the world

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, USA – Despite its location on the edge of the enormous Sahara Desert, parts of Morocco are rainy and well suited for grain production. However, the climate is variable and, with a national diet in which wheat plays an important role, the country is a major importer. It is an important client of French exporters and benefits from a close political relationship with the European Union.

The International Cereal Council (CIG) estimates Morocco’s total cereal production in 2021-22 at 11.1 million tonnes, compared to 3.4 million in 2020-21. Wheat production rose to 8.1 million tonnes from 2.6 million the previous year, while 2021-22 barley production increased 2.8 million tonnes from 600 000 tonnes from 2020-21.

Morocco’s total cereal imports are forecast to fall to 7.0 million tonnes from 8.4 million in 2020-2021. Wheat imports are estimated at 4.4 million tonnes for the current season, down from 5.1 million the previous year. Maize imports in 2021-2022 are expected to fall to 2.3 million tonnes from 2.9 million tonnes. Barley imports will decline slightly to 400,000 tonnes from 500,000 last year.

In a September 13 update, the USDA attaché provided official estimates.

“On July 26, 2021, the Moroccan government published its final wheat and barley production figures for the 2021 harvest (5.06 million tonnes of soft wheat, 2.48 million tonnes of durum wheat and 2.78 million tonnes of durum wheat million tonnes of barley), ”they said. “This harvest performance is mainly due to the abundant rainfall during the growing season, which was 32% higher than the previous year,” said the attaché. “The producing regions of Chaouia, Abda, Haouz, Tadla and Sais recorded yields 44% higher than the ten-year average.

Moroccan wheat imports are expected to return to normal levels in the 2021-22 marketing year, the attaché said, forecasting imports at 4.5 million tonnes mainly from soft wheat suppliers from France, Ukraine and Russia.

“Canada is expected to remain Morocco’s main supplier of durum wheat,” the report said. “American wheat remains overpriced on the Moroccan market.”

The attaché explained in an annual report on the cereals sector that “Moroccan prices for wheat, flour and bread are politically sensitive and therefore strictly managed”, with the National Interprofessional Office for Cereals and Legumes (ONICL ) aimed at controlling the price of grain. wheat in a range of $ 260 to $ 280 per tonne by managing the most favored nation tariff. ONICL subsidizes soft wheat flour, known as “national flour” with the aim of supporting low-income consumers.

The attaché estimated Morocco’s rice production in 2021-22 at 45,200 tonnes, up 7% from the previous year, due to favorable weather conditions during the growing season.

“Rice is not a staple food in Morocco and consumption has not increased significantly in recent years as consumers continue to opt for bread wheat, couscous and vegetables,” the report said, fixing consumption at 105,000 tonnes.

The report cites Thailand’s rice exports to Morocco at 31,562 tonnes in 2019-2020, making it the main supplier with 44% of the total. The attaché forecast imports for 2021-2022 at 60,000 tonnes “if the COVID-19 pandemic is managed and the tourism sector picks up”.

The importance of the Moroccan market for France is demonstrated by the fact that the export promotion organization France Export Céréales, taken over by the sector organization Intercéréales on July 1, 2021, maintains an office in Casablanca.

In its 2019-2020 activity report, France Export Céréales estimated France’s share of the Moroccan soft wheat market at 50%, making it the leading supplier, but added that there was strong competition. from Ukraine and Russia. Discussing the 2019-20 marketing year, he noted a high demand for barley, due to the poor Moroccan harvest. However, after gaining 80% of Moroccan barley imports in 2018-19, stronger competition reduced France’s share to 63%. France also gained ground on durum wheat exports to Morocco that year, but Canadian supplies were still the preferred choice of Moroccan importers.

The 2020 edition of the annual report of the flour milling sector published by the Fédération Nationale de la Minoterie (FNM), the flour milling association of Morocco, estimates at 125 the number of industrial mills processing soft wheat in the country, to which s ‘add 20 millers of durum wheat and eight producing barley flour.

At the end of 2019, the country had 11 million tonnes of grain processing capacity, 85% of which was used for soft wheat. The quantities processed in 2019 were 4.4 million tonnes of soft wheat, 900,000 tonnes of durum wheat and 830,000 tonnes of barley.

The FNM estimates Morocco’s average per capita wheat consumption at 200 kilograms, three times the world average.

In a December 11, 2020 report on biotechnology, the USDA attaché notes that “Morocco neither produces nor authorizes the import of agricultural products derived from biotechnology for human consumption”, but adds that it “imports genetically modified (GE) products for its livestock and poultry sectors.

The report refers to the government’s guidelines on the country’s position on biotechnological products, published in September 2012, which states that “Morocco follows the precautionary principle with regard to the justification for the ban of genetically modified products from local culture and their presence in products intended for human consumption, while simultaneously recognizing their international presence and acceptance as a source of animal feed.

However, Morocco is actively engaged in research and development in agricultural biotechnology as a means of meeting the challenges of food security in the country.

“This work is led by the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) and focused on finding solutions for Morocco’s main crops, including cereals, fodder, date palm, citrus fruits and olives,” said the attache. He recalled that Morocco is a large importer of soy products from the Americas and corn from Argentina, as well as sugar from Brazil.

“Imported food ingredients are a necessity for the Moroccan livestock and poultry industries, which are currently booming,” the report said.

For the European Union, Morocco is its biggest trading partner in what it calls its “southern neighborhood”. A free trade area – part of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement – was concluded in 1996 and entered into force on March 1, 2000.

An agreement on the further liberalization of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fishery and fishery products, entered into force in October 2012. According to the website of the European Commission, “trade in industrial products is fully liberalized, while the opening of the market for agricultural products is also substantial.

On September 29, 2021, the General Court of the EU declared the trade agreements invalid, as they had been concluded without the consent of the people of Western Sahara. The decision concerned two cases brought by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de oro (Front Polisario), an organization which claims the independence of the region. However, the Court did not order the suspension of the transaction.

Both the EU and Morocco are keen to address this issue, both for economic reasons and because of the wider political importance of Europe’s relations with Morocco. In a joint statement in response to the court ruling, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said they “took note of the judgments rendered by the General Court of the European Union. Union.”

They said they would “take the necessary measures to ensure the legal framework which guarantees the continuity and stability of trade relations“.

“We remain fully mobilized to maintain cooperation between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco, in a climate of serenity and commitment,” they added.

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