RABAT, MOROCCO — Faced with one of the worst droughts in four decades, North Africa is expected to be the world’s top buyer of wheat, Bloomberg reported.

The region’s wheat purchases are expected to increase 7.4% to a record 29.7 million tonnes in the crop year that starts in July, according to US Department of Agriculture forecasts. That level of demand would be higher than the Middle East and Southeast Asia for the first time in three seasons, Bloomberg said.

Egypt has issued two tenders so far for the 2020-21 season. Demand there is more stable compared to the rest of the region.

Morocco could buy a record 5.8 million tonnes of wheat and is exempting import taxes through the end of 2020.

Tunisia’s grain purchases may grow by a third to 2.5 million tonnes after harvests shrank. Purchases in Algeria also are expected to pick up.