Some basic products are lacking in the market. For some time, Tunisian consumers have been complaining about the lack of some foods, especially sugar. So is the shortage left?
Since the beginning of 2022, the country has registered shortages of certain basic products, especially due to the rise in international prices as well as the rise in the price of freight. But with the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, things have gotten worse, especially as this region supplies much of the world with grain and especially the countries of North Africa, including Tunisia. In 2021, the country achieved 60% of its imports of common wheat and 66% of its urban imports with the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
The results of the races in Tunisia experienced in March the lack of various basic products such as vegetable oil, sugar, flour, semolina,…. These deficiencies have caused shortages of foods that use these ingredients, such as bread.
A phenomenon that not only affected Tunisia because, and just as an example, a country like France experienced a shortage of vegetable oil. This has, of course, led to rising prices internationally and record high inflation worldwide, making access to certain products difficult.
But in the last few weeks, certain products have been lacking in the market. Tunisian consumers mention a persistent shortage of sugar and even rice. There are even cookies that cannot be found due to lack of sugar. The problem is that given the international situation, the situation is likely to get worse. First of all, the war in Ukraine destabilized the entire region and created global shortages, causing prices to rise, making it difficult for countries with limited resources such as Tunisia to access certain foods.
Then the influx of Tunisians living abroad as well as tourists will definitely make things worse and create additional demand. Finally, with the reopening of Algeria’s borders, this will create further demand.
Is the government ready to deal with this? Nothing has been communicated on this subject, but the only truth is that the Tunisians have noticed the lack of certain products when the tourist season has only just begun.
Meanwhile, and in order to guarantee Tunisia’s food security and given Tunisia’s budget problems due to the lack of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, several donors and friendly countries have mobilized to provide financial assistance. The World Bank recently announced that it had approved a $ 130 million loan to Tunisia to mitigate the effects of the war in Ukraine on the food situation. A loan that will finance the import of common wheat, which is crucial for the country, and provide emergency support to cover the city imports for dairy production and the small farmers’ seed needs for the next grain campaign.
According to the press release from the bank, the project aims to avoid disruptions in the supply of bread during the third quarter of 2022 by financing urgent purchases of common wheat corresponding to one and a half months’ consumption. The funding will also help Tunisia provide about 75,000 tonnes of feed barley to meet the needs of small milk producers for about a month, as well as 40,000 tonnes of quality wheat seeds to secure the next sowing campaign, which starts in October.
By the same token, and within the same framework, the Japanese government had last week decided to make a donation of one million US dollars to strengthen the Tunisian government’s capacity to mitigate the effects of shortages of wheat-based products and price inflation caused by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. . This donation will enable the World Food Program (WFP) to provide food aid to the most vulnerable populations and will be implemented in three governors: Kairouan, Kasserine and Siliana. In this context, WFP plans to support the Tunisian Ministry of Social Affairs in strengthening its capacity to implement improved food distribution across the country to approx. 75,000 needy families who are enrolled in the “Amen Social” program but who do not benefit from any permanent remittances.
Tunisia is currently facing a shortage of certain foods. The international situation and the influx of tourists and non-resident Tunisians may further aggravate the situation. Case to follow.