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Mixed prospects for Maghreb’s wheat harvest

24 May 20243 min reading

According to the USDA's latest ‘World Agricultural Production’ report, wheat production forecasts for the 2024/25 season in Northwest Africa show a mixed outlook for Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The report highlights varying conditions across the region, with Tunisia expected to fare the best due to favorable rainfall throughout the growing season.

The 2024/25 growing season in Northwest Africa was marked by a late start due to delayed and limited rainfall in the fall of 2023, which affected planting acreage and crop conditions. Harvesting began in southern Morocco in May and will progress north and east into Algeria and Tunisia, wrapping up in the eastern highlands by the end of June. While Tunisia is set to experience a significant boost in wheat production, Morocco and Algeria face mixed prospects, with Morocco particularly hard hit by adverse weather conditions. 

MOROCCO’S WHEAT PRODUCTION PLUMMETS AMID SEVERE DROUGHT

Morocco, typically the largest grain producer among the three countries, is projected to see a significant decline in wheat production this year. The forecast estimates a production of just 2.5 million tons (mt), a sharp decrease from last year's 4.2 mt. The harvested area is expected to be 2.2 million hectares (mha), down from 2.5 mha last year and below the 5-year average of 2.6 mha.

The delayed and limited rainfall in the fall of 2023 severely impacted the planting season, with most of the planting delayed until January 2024. The central and southern growing regions of Morocco, which rely heavily on rainfall, experienced a severe lack of precipitation, coupled with above-average temperatures, leading to diminished crop prospects and poor soil moisture availability.

ALGERIA'S WHEAT OUTPUT BENEFITS FROM FAVORABLE RAINFALL

Algeria is forecast to produce 3.0 mt of wheat from a harvested area of 1.8 mha, slightly up from last year’s production of 2.7 mt. However, this figure is still 5 percent below the 5-year average production level. The eastern regions of Algeria, close to Tunisia, benefited from frequent rainfall, resulting in high vegetation vigor and the best crop conditions in the country. Central Algeria also saw improved prospects due to adequate rainfall, with crop conditions near average.

TUNISIA ANTICIPATES ROBUST WHEAT HARVEST

Tunisia is expected to have the most favorable conditions among the three countries. The forecast for Tunisia's wheat production is 1.1 mt, a substantial increase of 149 percent from last year’s drought-affected 0.4 mt. The harvested area is estimated at 0.5 mha, a significant rise from the previous year's 0.3 mha and similar to the 5-year average. Consistent and favorable rainfall since autumn has created ideal moisture conditions across a wide north-south band in Tunisia, enabling robust wheat growth.

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