The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said about 700,000 tonnes of US wheat would be imported, “all of which are going for food aid”.

By Emma Field, for The Weekly Times |

A devastating drought in Ethiopia triggered by the El Niño weather pattern could double the nation’s wheat imports, according to the USDA.

The African nation is in the middle of its worst drought in 50 years, which has left almost 400,000 people facing severe malnutrition.

According to Agri­ the USDA’s Addis Ababa bureau forecast Ethiopia’s wheat production will drop by 4.5 million tonnes in 2015-16, for the year ending September this year.

The USDA tipped wheat imports to increase to a record 2.5 million tonnes, more than double the previous year’s total.

“This figure, however, could climb to as much as 3 (million) tonnes to adequately respond to the anticipated humanitarian needs,” the bureau said.

The Addis Ababa bureau dropped its Ethiopian wheat production forecast for 2015-16 to 3.3 million tonnes. says that since October last year an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of Ethiopian-destined wheat has been unloaded or is waiting to be unloaded in local ports.

The USDA said about 700,000 tonnes of US wheat would be imported, “all of which are going for food aid”.

Ethiopia has been a regular customer for Australia’s wheat growers for the past 20 years, but is not a consistently large buyer.

In 2003-04 Ethiopia bought 2.7 million tonnes of Australian wheat.

In 2014-15 it imported 431,929 tonnes from Australia.

The biggest wheat importer in Africa is Egypt, which is also the largest wheat customer in the world.

Egypt is followed by Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Libya, and South Africa. Ethiopia came in 10th, according to figures from 2014.

Source: The Weekly Times
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