BAGHDAD, IRAQ — An Iraqi agriculture ministry official told Reuters on Jan. 29 that the Middle East country is expecting wheat production to rise to nearly 3 million tonnes in 2018-19.

Mahdy al-Jabouri, an undersecretary at the ministry, told Reuters the increase from 2.17 million tonnes in 2017-18 is due to higher rainfall.

He said the projected production total is expected to cover 60% of the needs of the food rationing program that requires 4.5 million to 5 million tonnes of wheat annually.

Jabouri told Reuters that better weather in Nineveh, Iraq’s former top wheat-producing region, meant more wheat was planted this season than last year, but added that it’s too early to give a production estimate from that region.

A major grain importer, Iraq imported 4.1 million tonnes of wheat last year and is projected to import 3.7 million tonnes in 2018-19, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.