Tunisia to continue relying on grain imports to meet growing demand

TUNISIA – Favourable weather conditions are expected to boost production of grains in Tunisia to 1.2 million metric tonnes (MT) of wheat and 650, 000 MT of barley in the Market Year (MY) 2021/22.

This is a rise from MY 2020/21 production estimates of 1.04 MMT for wheat and 465,000 MT for barley.

According to a GAIN report prepared by USDA Foreign Agricultural Services, ample rainfall and good soil moisture encouraged farmers to seed larger areas in October to December 2020.

The seeded area for wheat increased from 556,000 HA to 607,000 HA, of which 542,000 HA is durum wheat and 65,000 HA is common wheat.

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However, the planted area for barley is 510,000 HA, down from 518,000 HA last year. The post further highlighted that, irrigated area of wheat and barley slightly decreased from 74,000 HA to 73,000 HA.

“There are no significant pest or disease issues, however fertilizer shortages have curbed growth. Some analysts believe that production could increase by as much as 20 to 30 percent compared to last year, especially if the crops receive good rainfall in April,” indicates the report.

In terms of consumption, local demand for the grain is forecasted to rise with population growth.

The 2021/22 wheat consumption is expected to be at 3.2 MMT, or 268 kg on a per capita basis, based on a population of 11.93 million.

While, barley consumption is forecast at 1.31 MMT reflecting average population growth of roughly 2 percent.

From the assessment, local production is below consumption levels, prompting the North African country to turn to imports.

“Production could increase by as much as 20 to 30 percent compared to last year, especially if the crops receive good rainfall in April.”

USDA

During the period under review, the report expects wheat imports to reach 2.1 MMT, marginally rising from MY 2020/21 estimate at 2 MMT to reflect stagnant consumption due to COVID-19.

Tunisia sources most of its imported wheat from Ukraine, Russia, and Italy, while to a lesser extent from Greece, Spain, and France.

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For barley, imports are forecast to reach 700,000 MT from previous season’s 800,000 MT.

Ethiopia’s wheat and barley production to rise

Meanwhile, wheat production in Ethiopia for 2021/22 is projected to 5.18 million tons, up by 1.6 percent over the 2020/21 production estimate of 5.1 million tons.

While for barley, production is estimated to be 2.36 million metric tons, a slight rise from 2.35 million metric tons of 2020/21.

Wheat consumption is expected to reach to 6.7 million MT, a nearly one percent increase over 2020/21. The country is set to remain as a net importer of wheat, satisfying around 25 percent of the local demand with imports.

On the other hand, barley consumption is projected to be close to 2.4 million metric tons because of better production and availability on the market both for food and malt.

Imports are forecast at only 4,000 metric tons as local production will supersede the need for higher level imports.

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