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May 18, 2011

Morocco sees higher grains harvest

Morocco expects its cereals harvest to reach 8.8 million tonnes this year, Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhennouch said, exceeding its level last year and the current budget's crop forecast.

In remarks carried by the official MAP news agency, Akhennouch said the forecast was valid "as of today" unless "exceptional" developments occur. He did not give a breakdown per cereal variety for the harvest forecast.

The current cereal-growing campaign was spared the damaging floods of 2010 and farmers are hoping for dry weather in the weeks that precede the start of the harvest in June.

Morocco's cereal harvest stood at 7.46 million tonnes last year, recording a 27 percent fall compared with a year earlier, due mainly to the impact of floods.

The 2011 budget, predicting an economic growth of 5 percent, was based on a cereals harvest of 7 million tonnes.

The state's High Planning Commission (HCP) last month said Morocco's economy would grow by 4.6 percent in 2011 based on what it described then as a "realistic" forecast of a cereals harvest of 7 million tonnes.

A harvest of 9 million tonnes will be needed to enable the North African country to post economic growth of 5.1 percent, it added. HCP estimated the $90 billion economy to have gained 3.3 percent in 2010 versus 4.9 percent in 2009.

Agriculture is the country's biggest employer, at nearly 35 percent its workforce, but the majority of cereal-planted areas are small properties owned by subsistence farmers.


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