April 5, 2017 / 9:05 AM / 2 years ago

Morocco 1st Qtr growth 4.3 pct on better farming output: planning agency

Farmers pick strawberries, to be exported, in a field in the town of Moulay Bousselham in Kenitra province, file. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco’s economy grew 4.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 1.7 percent in the same period a year earlier, helped by better agricultural output, the planning agency said on Wednesday.

The agency said it expects the economy to grow 4.6 percent in the second quarter of 2017. Growth was 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Agricultural output rose by 12.9 percent in the first quarter this year, up from 9 percent last year, the agency said.

Due to greater rainfall, the country is on course for a favourable harvest, with a 41 percent rise in the cereal harvest following a devastating drought last year that drove agricultural output down 70 percent.

Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the Moroccan economy.

The non-agricultural sector grew 3 pct in the first quarter from a year ago, the agency said.

The current account deficit widened 21 pct in the first three months of the year, as oil prices picked up and Moroccan energy imports increased, the agency said. The North African kingdom is one of the biggest energy importers in the region.

Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; writing by Patrick Markey

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