Crop Explorer - Commodity Intelligence Reports - North Africa

May 31 2023 | Northwest Africa’s MY 2023/24 Diminished Grain Harvest
During the 2023/24 marketing year (MY 2023/24), the Northwest Africa countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia struggled with drought all season (see figure 1). Their combined harvest was reduced for a second straight year due to water deficiencies. In Northwest Africa, Morocco typically produces the largest portion of the cereal crop, followed by Algeria and Tunisia. Tunisia, the smallest contributor, was the only country to have a bumper crop in 2022/23, while Morocco and Algeria suffered their second straight disappointing harvest. The entire region remains dependent on imported wheat to fill the gap. Harvest begins in May in Morocco and in June in Algeria and Tunisia.

Mar 1 2022 | Severe Drought in Morocco, Dryness expanding in Algeria
Extreme drought continues to afflict winter grains in Morocco; almost the entire growing region of Morocco is mired in a severe seasonal drought. Dryness concerns have expanded across much of Algeria and parts of Tunisia (Figures 1 and 2). Initial USDA global crop production estimates for marketing year (MY) 2022/23, including wheat and barley production estimates for Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, will be released on May 12, 2022.

Apr 22 2020 | Northwest Africa 2020/21 Crop Conditions are Mixed Due to Variable Rainfall
Crops throughout Northwest Africa, which includes Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, have seen highly variable rainfall both geographically and temporally during the current growing season, resulting in considerable disparities in crop prospects. Cereal grains in Northwest Africa are typically planted starting in October and finished by January. The wide planting window is due to the variability of soil moisture from autumn rains. The crops usually flower in March and April and proceed to grain-fill in April and May. Harvest begins in May in southern Morocco and continues into June and early July in Algeria and Tunisia.

Jul 16 2019 | Northwest Africa: Drought in Western Growing Areas, Favorable Conditions in the East
Diverse weather conditions in Northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) during marketing year (MY) 2019/2020 crop season led to different results across the region. Drought reduced yields in Morocco and western Algeria, but favorable conditions in eastern Algeria and Tunisia improved yields. Combined wheat production for these three countries is estimated at a near-average level of 9.9 million metric tons (mmt) (See Figure 1).

Jun 1 2017 | Northwest Africa: 2017/18 Crop Expectations Deteriorate Because of Unfavorable Spring
Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are net wheat-importing countries which experience large swings in production due to their semi-arid climate. The arable land in all three countries is concentrated near the coast and in the uplands, where precipitation is higher due to topography. This strip of arable land is quite narrow, reaching a maximum width of about 125 miles in central Morocco. In all three countries wheat is the preferred crop while barley is secondary and grown on more marginal land. Other field crops in Northwest Africa include fava beans, sugar beets, rapeseed, sunflowerseed, and chickpeas. Olives, which are an important traditional crop, are grown in groves in the drier regions. About one quarter of Morocco’s wheat is durum, 40 to 50 percent for Algeria, and about 80 percent for Tunisia.

Mar 2 2016 | Northwest Africa: 2016/17 Winter Grains Prospects for Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia
Annual precipitation in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia fluctuates greatly. These countries struggle for moisture because they at the southern extent of storm systems, traveling east from the Atlantic Ocean. The vast majority of the grain crops in Northwest Africa are grown on rain-fed land or drylands, less than 10 percent are irrigated. Wheat is grown in the most favorable regions while barley is grown in the more marginal areas farther inland. The arable lands closest to the coast are usually the best wheat producing areas because they receive the most rainfall. The arable regions of Northwest Africa are quite small in comparison to the sizes of the individual countries. Growing areas extend up to 125 miles from the coast in Morocco but no more than 50 to 75 miles in Algeria and Tunisia. The Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert occupy most of the land to the west and south of the crop areas. Due to weather fluctuations, a year with “average” production seldom occurs in any of the countries of Northwest Africa.

Jan 21 2016 | Egypt 2015/16 Rice Production: Yield Reduced by Extreme Heat
Summary USDA estimates 2015/16 Egyptian rice production at 4.0 million tons milled (5.8 million tons rough). Although Egypt planted a record 0.8 million hectares, production was lower than the five-year average of 4.3 million tons milled (6.2 million tons rough) due to poor yields. During August 2015, temperatures were abnormally high, even by Egyptian standards, causing damage to crops, particularly rice. The extreme heat accelerated crop development, reducing grain size and weight. Rough rice yield for 2015/16 is estimated at 7.25 tons per hectare (MT/Ha), a 25-year low, 28 percent below last year’s record 10.10 MT/Ha, and 22 percent below the 5-year average.

Mar 21 2013 | Northwest Africa Grain Conditions Appear Favorable Despite Dry Winter
Current crop conditions in the cereal growing region of Northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), appear to be good despite a period of dryness during December, January, and February. In this semi-arid region rainfall is the most critical yield determinant. Precipitation during the 2013/14 crop season has been mostly favorable. The periods at planting (October and November), and at green-up (March and April), are the most important times for significant rainfall. While also beneficial, winter precipitation however, is not as critical as rain received during these other stages of plant growth.

Mar 28 2012 | Dryness Continues in Northwest Africa's Largest Grain Producer, Morocco.
Crop conditions in Northwest Africa are mixed for 2012/13 grain season as weather has split the region into halves with favorable conditions in the east (Tunisia and most of Algeria) and unfavorable conditions in the west (Morocco and western Algeria). Normal rainfall ended in Morocco during November, leaving drought to overtake the area and crops struggling as soil moisture levels were nearly depleted in Morocco and western Algeria. Conversely, Tunisia and eastern Algeria continued to receive frequent rain events and hence favorable moisture levels during the winter and spring.

Jun 2 2010 | Morocco: Heavy Winter Rains Assure a Large Grain Crop But Intensity and Timing Prevent Record
Staff from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) traveled in Morocco during late March and early April 2010 to assess crop conditions. Morocco is a significant producer of two cereal crops: wheat and barley. It typically produces between fifty and sixty percent of Northwest Africa's grain production. Morocco is also one of the world's largest grain importers as even in its best years, the country isn't able to meet domestic demand. The Moroccan grain crop is almost exclusively rain-fed and production is notoriously variable, having to rely on the prevailing storm track. If storm systems don't follow a favorable southern route over Morocco, the country's agriculture, particularly in the central and southern regions, suffers high yield losses due to the lack of precipitation. If high summer-like temperatures come early in the late growing season, they can exacerbate low soil moisture conditions.

Jun 2 2010 | Estimated 2010/11 Grain Production In Tunisia Falls 50 Percent from Last Season
Crop Travel Confirms Precipitation Missed Central and Southern Agricultural Regions. Agricultural specialists from FAS traveled through Tunisia during early April 2010 to visit fields, speak with farmers, and to meet with various agricultural specialists in the public and private sectors about the current conditions and situation and learn about issues facing grain production in the country.

Feb 2 2009 | North West Africa: Current Situation
The total 2009/10 winter wheat and barley crop in Northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) is well positioned to become a bumper or even record crop. The three-country region is normally a consistent, large import market for grain; however, if the region continues receiving favorably wet weather this spring, its imports could be dramatically reduced.

Feb 22 2006 | Northwest Africa: 2006/07 Winter Grains Well Established.
Weather has been beneficial for the 2006/07 winter grains crop in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The two dominant grain crops in the three-country northwest Africa region are wheat and barley. Both crops appear to be well established in all three countries.

May 22 2000 | Tunisias Cereal Harvest Mirrors the Rest of Northwest Africa
With the paucity of rainfall in late April and early May, grain production prospects in Tunisia have been considerably reduced. The one mid-April precipitation event that occurred, while highly anticipated, did not boost moisture to needed levels. Moreover, this rain combined with above average temperatures to create a hot, humid environment that promoted the emergence of pests and fungi, reducing both yields and quality of the already drought-stricken crops. Harvesting should now be underway, and will continue through June.

Jan 16 2001 | Northwest Africa Winter Grain Prospects
Recent rains in Morocco, along with showers in Tunisia have helped to alleviate short-term dryness and have enhanced the outlook for the 2001/02 wheat and barley crop. With the advent of the December and early January rains, most areas in northwest Africa have seen their fall/winter season precipitation totals return to normal. However, the shift in the weather track which brought widespread and significant precipitation to the region largely bypassed Algeria, where moisture remains well below the normals.

Feb 15 2001 | Northwest Africa Winter Grain Prospects:
Most agricultural lands in northwest Africa appear to be coming out of a year-long drought. Morocco, hit hardest by the dryness, has experienced drought conditions for two consecutive years, and parts of the country remain in poor shape. Tunisia and eastern Algeria received heavy showers during the first week of February (50-100 mm), but are still behind long-term averages and will need additional rainfall to improve crop prospects.

Apr 25 2001 | Northwest Africa: Drought Remains Entrenched
Another winter grain season off to a good start has collapsed as a damagingly dry winter, the second straight for Algeria and Tunisia, and the third straight year of drought for Morocco, has taken a toll on cereal crops from Morocco eastward to Tunisia. The 2001/02 season started with high expectations as timely, abundant rains arrived early in Morocco's northern agricultural regions. Although slow to arrive, by mid-January rains finally did come to Algeria, Tunisia, and southern Morocco, quashing dryness concerns. Since then, however, the season's weather has followed a similar pattern to last year, when rainfall virtually ceased in mid-January and resulted in dismal production totals.

Nov 19 2001 | Northwest Africa:
Heavy-to-moderate rains spread across most of northwest Africa during the second week of November. Rainfall was greatest along the western coast of Algeria and along a localized area of the central coast in the capital city, Algiers. The death toll in Algeria, primarily from the ensuing flash floods and mudslides in Algiers itself, is reported at between 700 and 1,000 people. Fortunately, the torrential rains were concentrated in a couple of pockets along the coast within fifty miles of shore, while more moderate, beneficial rains were spread across the the majority of the agricultural lands.

Jan 18 2002 | Winter Grains in Northwest Africa:
Current conditions for winter grains are generally good across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as all areas have received some autumn rains, encouraging sowing and emergence. At present however, crops in Algeria (particularly the central coastal area) and Tunisia would greatly benefit from soaking rains. Soil moisture levels have dropped considerably in the last two months as a drying trend has taken place. The optimal time for winter wheat and barley planting in North Africa occurs during mid-November through Mid-December, typically following the fall rains. Due to the great uncertainty of African rainfall and the lack of planting automation, most planting does not begin until after the first significant rains arrive, even if they arrive late. Fields can be sown into mid-January if the autumn rains are delayed, as was the case in Morocco this year.

Mar 4 2002 | An Extremely Dry January and February Increases Crop Stress
During the weekend of March 1st through the 3rd, light rains spread through Morocco (including southern areas) as a low pressure system moved across the region. This precipitation, and any more that may fall across northwest Africa, would greatly benefit winter wheat (currently at the jointing stage). Timely, occasional rain is needed in order to reverse the recent drying trend, as well as the long-term drought which has persisted for several years. The critical reproduction period for Northwest Africa's winter wheat, the time in which it demands substantial moisture, occurs during March and April. Given the current lack of sufficient soil moisture, occasional spring rains will be critical for the continued development of the crop.

Apr 4 2002 | Northwest Africa: Timely Rains Boost Wheat Potential in Morocco, but Precipitation Bypasses Most of
Most of Northwest Africa has seen badly-needed precipitation return to the area since early March, with rainfall continuing into the beginning of April. Coming on the heels of a damagingly dry January and February, this widespread rain has fallen on the winter grain (wheat and barley) crop in Morocco and western Algeria as it enters the moisture-intense heading (reproductive) stage. With the increased soil moisture, some yield recovery can be expected. Rainfall coverage was not as complete in eastern Algeria and Tunisia. While the rain that has occurred has helped to ease the long-term dryness, rainfall has just not been as abundant in the east.

Jun 21 2002 | Northwest Africa's 2002/03 Winter Grains Harvest
Harvesting is now underway in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia with aggregate 2002/03 cereal production estimated at 7.8 million tons, down from 8.2 million last year. Harvesting of grains (almost solely wheat and barley) occurs during the months of June and July. Over the last five years, total combined wheat and barley production averaged 7.3 million tons. This region however, typically sees wide swings in its output, primarily due to highly variable weather and its low level of irrigation and technology. Cereal production has ranged from a low of 4.3 million tons in 2000, to a high of 10.9 million in 1998. Specifically, 2002/03 wheat production is estimated at 5.6 million tons, down from 6.3 million last year, but above the five-year average of 5.3 million. The 2002/03 barley crop is estimated at 2.2 million tons, up 300,000 from last years harvest. Barley is planted on more marginal lands, which saw greater precipitation this year than last.

Jan 3 2003 | Abundant Autumn Rains Help Northwest Africa Grain Crop
Widespread, beneficial rain during autumn has greatly improved winter grain conditions for Northwest Africa. Winter wheat and barley comprises the vast majority of its grain crop and planting typically begins in mid-November, after initial rains moisten the dry soils. This year, Moroccos first substantial rain arrived a full month earlier than normal, allowing farmers to begin preparatory fieldwork in October. The rain began in earnest during November and continued on into December. This should have provided for proper seed germination and a successful vegetative period for the young plants before winter dormancy. In an area that has been plagued by drought for several consecutive years, heavy November and December precipitation is a welcome relief.

Jan 22 2004 | Northwest Africa: Plentiful Autumn Rains
Abundant rains have fallen across most of Northwest Africa for the second consecutive fall planting season. The seasonal rains arrived early and were plentiful for practically the entire autumn quarter. Expectations are running high in the region, which is accustomed to the swings of both boom and bust crop years. Going into dormancy or semi-dormancy, Algeria appears to have enjoyed the best grain emergence in Northwest Africa, as indicated by satellite imagery. Not far behind, Morocco and Tunisia are also showing better-than-average conditions with good soil moisture levels.

Mar 11 2004 | Northwest Africa: Heading Into Spring:
The 2004/05 winter grain crop, almost exclusively wheat and barley, in Northwest Africa remains on track to be another potentially large harvest. Ensuring another year of good grain collection will still require sufficient March and April rainfall in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.) Critical and necessary weather milestones have been met so far this season. Initially, widespread, timely rains during planting permitted farmers across the Maghreb to achieve high sown area last fall. During winter, showers kept soil moisture levels adequate in Tunisia and eastern Algeria. In the west, however, winter dryness began in late December and persisted into February. Yield potential in the affected regions of western Algeria and Morocco has likely been reduced somewhat by the winter rainfall deficit, but its effect should be minor. This is because crop damage due to dryness was tempered as seasonally low temperatures kept detrimental evaporation rates to a minimum.

Jan 19 2005 | Northwest Africa: Wheat and Barley Well Established
During the last quarter of 2004 and into 2005 winter grains in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia emerged and developed with beneficial soil moisture. Precipitation has been widespread and well-timed throughout the agricultural areas. The best crop conditions in Northwest Africa appear to be in the important grain-producing area of central Morocco.

Mar 2 2005 | Morocco: Drought Concerns Linger Despite Recent Rains
Significant late-February rainfall reversed persistent dryness for winter grains in Morocco, but additional rainfall is needed to fully replenish depleted soil moisture reserves.

Close Window