Morocco’s economy grew 1.2 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2016, the country’s planning agency said on Wednesday.

The country experienced a decline in its agricultural sector as result of the severe drought that hurt the economy. The country had poor rainfalls in 2016, which even made the King call on his people to pray for rain.

Morocco is a large consumer of wheat with an average annual consumption that is three times larger than the world average. The country, however, experienced a decline in their wheat production with half of their wheat harvest being wiped out by drought.

The planning agency said that the cereal harvest dropped by 70 percent in 2016 to 3.35 million tonnes from 11 million tonnes in 2015. Agricultural output would increase 11.1 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the agency said.

The agriculture sector accounts for 15 percent of Morocco’s domestic output and is the source of income for about 75 percent of people in rural areas. In 2016, over 175,000 people lost their jobs in the agricultural sector due to the drought plaguing the country. The decline has led to a four percent drop in the sector’s operating capacity, said the Moroccan planning authority.

Growth in Morocco’s non-agricultural sectors increased to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter from 1.9 percent in the previous three months, the agency said.

Forecasts by the planning agency reveal that national output would expand 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, buoyed by a surge in farming output which slumped 12.3 percent in the final three months of 2016 following North Africa’s worst drought in decades.

Morocco’s central bank is highly optimistic for 2017 as it predicts that the countries economic growth will jump to 4.2 percent in 2017 from an estimated 1.2 percent in 2016 as there has been a surge in agricultural output.


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