finance & economy

Tunisia imports 50% of its needs in grain products (ONAGRI)

April 21, 2022

(TAP) - 'Tunisia imports nearly 50% of its needs in grain products, a rate which is set to reach 75% in the coming years given the deterioration of climate conditions,' the National Observatory of Agriculture (ONAGRI) said in a report published Wednesday.

Grain imports show an upward trend explained by rising prices, growing demand in grain products and low yield of grain crops, ONAGRI indicated.

In this respect, the observatory pointed out that Tunisia is ranked 120 globally (out of 191 countries) in terms of grain crop yield. The low grain yield is due to climate conditions, quality of lands, inputs and agricultural practices.

However, ONAGRI specified that an increase in domestic grain production will be possible if the needs in fertilisers are met at affordable prices.

'Given the current global circumstances and a global shortage of fertilisers supply, the rising prices of energy has reduced the production of numerous Asian, European and North American countries and caused price hikes of fertilisers,' ONAGRI recalled.

There is need to invest in the research field to identify drought-resistant varieties and increase the use of selected seeds, the observatory said.

ONAGRI further called for the development of a joint programme to improve the grain yield which includes variety improvement and popularisation of good practices for technical packages.

Access to funding for small-scale farmers should be improved and the strategic reserve should be enhanced so as to reduce supply-related risks during crises, it added. Support to small-scale grain farmers should also be boosted through input subsidies in a bid to reduce production cost (seeds, fertilisers, etc).

Grain growing contributes by an average of 13% to the agricultural added value and by 1.44% to the GDP. It accounts for 42% of the utilised agricultural lands, i.e. 27% of all agricultural exports in 2019.

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