PARIS - Morocco will offer subsidies to import up to 2.5 million metric tons of soft wheat between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2024, state grains agency ONICL said, as the North African country pursues an import programme to offset drought-affected local production.

The January to April import scheme was approved by Morocco's finance and agriculture ministries, with subsidy details to be published separately, ONICL said in a note on its website.

After drought reduced its domestic wheat crop for a second year, Morocco launched an import programme for the 2023/24 season covering up to 2.5 million tons for July to September, followed by a second round for October to December allowing up to 2 million tons.

Traders had expected the import campaign to continue after shipments so far this season lagged volumes available under the subsidy schemes, and with low rainfall again creating uncertainty about Morocco's next harvest.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Ahmed Eljechtimi and Michael Hogan; Editing by Jan Harvey)