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Cereal seed sales double

Rabat, November 2, 2007

Moroccan sales of cereal seeds were more than double the average of the past five years as planting got under way for the 2007-2008 season, the Agriculture Ministry said.

A total of 40,500 tonnes of seeds were sold by October, of which 34,500 tonnes of wheat seeds, 6,000 tonnes of durum wheat and 30 tonnes of barley, the ministry said in a statement.

It forecast total seed sales of 65,000 tonnes this season, without giving an year-earlier figure.

'The ministry places the emphasis, in this respect, on the importance of establishing a permanent security stock of certified seeds to deal with fluctuation in production of these strategic inputs,' the ministry said.

It said it had raised a government subsidy on seed purchases to 115 dirhams ($14.71) per quintal this year from 110 dirhams in 2006.

Drought caused Morocco's grain harvest to tumble to 2.05 million tonnes this year from 9.3 million in 2006 and it has stepped up grain imports to compensate.

The government has slashed customs tariffs and begun subsidising grain imports. Traders put Morocco's soft wheat import requirement at about 3.3 million tonnes in the 2007-2008 season.

More frequent droughts have made in harder for Moroccan farmers to supply enough food for a growing population and underscored the need for agricultural reform.

The government says it is helping farmers via a drought insurance scheme, irrigation projects and measures to protect livestock by making cheaper animal feed available. Reuters




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