Tunisia on the brink of crisis

Tunisia’s annual grain demand is approximately 30 million quintiles, equivalent to 3 million quintals per month, roughly distributed as follows: 1.07 million quintits of durum wheat, 1 million quintiles of common wheat and 0.95 million quintiles of barley. The country produces only about 10 million fifths a year and therefore imports 70% of its grain needs.

In Tunisia, the value of grain imports – common wheat, durum wheat and barley – has doubled in the last ten years, while in 2011 it amounted to 756,301,210 dinars and 1,536,342,301 dinars in 2019, the value of 1,209 in 209 imported dinars reached 1,209 in 209.

It is not surprising that the value of grain imports increased in 2020, given the crisis in the world market due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Crisis that has affected prices, but also supply and demand.

The volume of imported grain in 2011 was 1,570,556 tonnes and 2,119,474 tonnes in 2019. A small increase was registered in 2020, when imports amounted to 2,783,853 tonnes.

The amount of grain collected decreased between 2019 and 2021 due to the economic and health crisis which negatively affected the sector. According to the National Grain Office, the amount of grain collected in 2019 was 12,856,436 quintiles and decreased in 2020, registering only 7,106,423 quintets. In 2021, according to the Grain Office, it is estimated at 8,097,969 quint.

With the economic crisis exacerbated by the health crisis, the Cereals Office, which has accumulated debt to banks, is struggling to meet its obligations to exporters. According to Adel Marzouk, general secretary of the grain office union at Sfax, the cargo of wheat and barley from three ships has not been unloaded at the port of Kerkennah since November due to the office’s inability to pay suppliers.

To avoid shortages and encourage farmers to grow cereals, the Ministry of Agriculture has raised the production prices of cereals in 2021 as follows: durum wheat: from 87 dinars to 100 dinars per hectare. quintal, common wheat: from 67 dinars to 80 dinars per. fifth. barley and triticale from 56 dinars to 69 dinars per. quintal. Decisions that should have a positive effect on local productivity, but which will not meet the country’s growing grain needs.

In addition, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a report published in November indicated that the rising trend in international wheat prices continued for the fourth month in a row in October 2021, driven by a global tightening of supply and strong demand. pushed up export prices in the major exporting countries.

She said the reduced supply of premium wheat globally has exacerbated upward pressure; premium wheat prices showed the largest increases, including an 8% increase in canadian wheat prices and a 7% increase in EU wheat prices. Similarly, benchmark export prices for wheat in the United States rose 5% to 31% higher than a year ago. Export prices in the Russian Federation and Argentina also increased by 4%, but the price increases were offset by an increase in the export tax in the Russian Federation and the impending arrival of seasonal harvests in Argentina.

Among the large coarse kernels, FAO adds, barley export prices rose most in October, supported by strong global demand, reduced production prospects and ripple effects related to rising prices in other markets. International maize prices also strengthened compared to the previous month. Harvest delays and strong demand supported prices in Ukraine, which rose 4% in October, as strong sales growth and concerns about the impact of higher fertilizer costs on plantations in Argentina pushed up corn prices in that country by 3%. In the US, the value of benchmark maize also increased, albeit to a lesser extent, as new crops and minor disruptions to port operations eased upward pressure.

The FAO rice price index (2014-2016 = 100) averaged 99.9 points in October 2021, an increase of 1.2% from September but still a decrease of 7.9% compared to a year earlier. Export prices showed opposite trends among different suppliers in October. In Vietnam, prices rose for the second month in a row, supported by improved trading activity following the easing of covid-19 containment measures.

In the United States, the organization points out, the quality of freshly harvested crops has been disappointing, which has supported prices. In contrast, prices fell to an eleven-month low in India as the Indian rupee weakened against the US dollar and the “Kharif” season’s crops reached the harvest stage. In Thailand, weak demand and the depreciation of the baht against the US dollar tended to compensate for upward pressure from concerns about flood damage to crops; prices thus remained relatively stable compared to the previous month.


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