WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) revised its forecast for Morocco’s market year 2015-16 wheat imports from 2.8 million tonnes to 3 million tonnes based on the demand situation. Stocks have been drawn down and the government has cut the import duty on soft wheat to ensure adequate supplies for the domestic market, according to a USDA FAS report released on Jan. 22.

As of Jan. 1, Morocco estimates total stock of soft wheat at 760,000 tonnes, durum wheat at 105,000 tonnes, and barley at 102,000 tonnes. These stocks will cover domestic demand only through March, and consequently, imports are expected to rise. According to the trade, soft wheat imports will be between 2.8 million tonnes and 3.1 million tonnes. With this year’s drought, imports are expected to increase earlier than anticipated.

The 2016-17 season started under very unfavorable conditions with a significant shortage in rainfall compared to an average year. Morocco dams cover only 15% of its agricultural land with rain-fed agricultural production accounting for 85%. On Dec. 23, 2015, Morocco reduced the import duties for bread wheat from 50% to 30% to ensure adequate supplies for the domestic market and to maintain a reference price target of 2,600 dirhams/tonne ($263).

On Dec. 17, Morocco opened a tender for 360,000 tonnes of soft wheat and 315,000 tonnes of durum wheat under the U.S. Free Trade Agreement Tariff Rate Quota. The Moroccan National Office of Cereals accepted one bid to import a total of 9,800 tonnes of soft wheat under this tender, and there were no bids for durum wheat.