TUNISIA –Tunisia Cereals Office (OC) seeks 70,000 tonnes of cereal seeds for the next 2024/2025 campaign after the previous campaign was undermined by a catastrophic drought.
The move follows that, currently, the cereal sectors in Tunisia are going through a bad patch caused by severe a drought that has hit the country coupled with the rise in input prices which is also driving up production costs.
Béchir Kthiri, CEO of the Cereals Office (OC) revealed that the authorities are already preparing for the new campaign to come to compensate for the low production experienced in 2022/2023 campaign.
In Tunisia, wheat and barley are the main cultivated cereals. According to Mr. Kthiri, about 71% of the announced stock, or 50,000 tonnes, will be dedicated to durum wheat seeds, the main cereal grown in the country
He added that the mobilization initiative is part of new provisions adopted by the authorities in response to the rainfall deficit that the country is experiencing, in particular, due to the persistence of drought and which is affecting agricultural production.
Earlier, the farmers union official Mohamed Rjaibia revealed that Tunisia’s grain harvest for 2022/23 is projected to decline to 200,000-250,000 tonnes from 750,000 tonnes last year owing to the severe drought that has hit the country.
Terming the situation “disastrous”, Rjaibia further disclosed that the expected decline in the grain crop would deepen Tunisia’s financial difficulties as it tries to clinch an international rescue package.
However, recently, the European Union (EU) committed to rescuing the situation through an initiative implemented through three cereal collectors mandated by the Cereals Office (OC) with the collaboration of the Italian Agency for Cooperation in Development (AICS).
These include the private company Comptoir Multiservices Agricoles (CMA), the leader in the collection of cereals for consumption in Tunisia, the Mutual Central Seed Company (COSEM), and the Selected Seed Company (SOSEM).
Through the initiative, the European Union (EU) earmarked 18 million euros (US$19.5 million) as a support fund intended to boost cereal production in the country.
According to the EU, the grant is envisioned to help small farmers mitigate cereal production costs and improve their resilience to climate change which has adversely affected the sector’s production prospects.