ALGERIA –   The Algerian National Agricultural Land Office (ONTA) plans to distribute more than 200,000 hectares of agricultural land to private investors in a bid to boost wheat production.

According to Ecofin Agency, this was revealed by Agriculture Minister Abdelhafid Henni who noted that the executive plans to distribute the land to private investors by next June.

According to Henni, the objective of this operation is to reach one (1) million hectares of cereal-growing land in the south of the country by the end of next year, with an expected yield of 70-80 quintals per hectare.

North Africa is the second largest wheat purchasing center after the Middle East where Algeria and Egypt are the main drivers of the demand growth since cereal is their staple food.

Besides, Algeria is among the largest consumers of wheat in the world whose consumption accounts for 60% of the food ration in the country.

However, the country’s production cannot meet the demand hence 70% of local consumption relies on imports. The USDA predicts that the country’s wheat consumption will be 11.15 MMT for the 2022/23 season.

Recently, the government has divested itself from agricultural production and processing allowing the private sector to take the lead, and millers form a significant part of this private sector.

Henni unveiled that the earmarked agricultural land is developed by ONTA and distributed in the wilayas of Adrar, El Ménéa, Timimoune, Ouargla, Illizi, and Djanet regions for the cultivation of cereals.

Henni further noted that investors’ files have been qualified through the digital platform launched by his ministry to receive applications from qualified private sectors.

He stated that the land will be dedicated to the cultivation of cereals, primarily wheat adding that a specialized commission has been set up to study the files of the various investors who are interested.

According to a recent USDA report, Algeria is projected to produce 3.3 million tonnes of wheat for 2022-23, an improvement over last year’s drought-impacted crop.

However, wheat imports are projected at 8.2 million tonnes to meet the local consumption of 11.1 million tonnes.

The country intends to halt itself from import bills noting that in 2021, imports of the wheat commodity had cost the executive about US$2.25 billion.

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