At a time when cereal exports are on the rise, Morocco plans to import 2 million tonnes of soft wheat to combat drought problems. The National Commercial Office for Cereals and Pulses (ONICL) announced that the country will grant subsidies for soft wheat imports between 1 October and 31 December. The ONICL said Morocco's Ministry of Finance and Agriculture approved the import scheme. Details of the subsidies will be announced in a separate memorandum, Reuters confirmed.
The move comes at a sensitive time globally. Morocco is currently facing a prolonged drought caused by insufficient rainfall and rising temperatures, which directly affects agricultural production. For the 2022-2023 crop year, Morocco announced a cereal production of 5.51 million tonnes, a significant increase of 61.8% over the previous season.
Last year's production was 67% down on the previous year. The North African country's production reached 3.4 million tonnes, exceeding the 2020-2021 season by 1 million tonnes. To address this situation, Morocco announced changes to wheat import subsidies to encourage companies to import more wheat from other markets. In March this year, the trade association tabled an amendment to encourage companies to import grain from the Black Sea region.
Market experts consulted by MoroccoWorldNews urge the government to tap Russian grain markets. Moulay Abdelkader Alaoui, president of the National Federation of Mills, explained how reopening the doors to Russian wheat imports would help strengthen Morocco's position in diversifying its wheat import sources. The expert said Morocco was forced to withdraw from the Russian market after the war in Ukraine.
Last September, the Russian ambassador to Morocco, Vladimir Baibakov, stressed that Russia is ready to supply wheat to the North African country at reasonable prices. Baibakov stressed that the two countries "buy from each other products that are in demand on their markets". A four- to five-month supply of wheat had been assured, according to Moulay Abdelkader Alaoui, president of the National Federation of Mills, who made this claim in August. Bringing in 25 million quintals of wheat from July to 30 September will improve revenue.
Morocco's imports from Russia include coal and petroleum products, while imports from Russia include citrus fruits and fish. The Russian ambassador also referred to Morocco's position, explaining that the country is one of Russia's most important trade and economic partners in Africa. In 2022, the Kingdom ranked third in exports and fourth in imports, he said, noting that after the COVID-19 pandemic, trade between the two nations reached $2 billion.