TUNISIA – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries has unveiled a new development strategy that aims to increase the area devoted to cereal growing to 1.2 million hectares by 2035 against an average area of less than 900,000 hectares currently.
In detail, the ministry noted that wheat should occupy an area of 650,000 hectares, including 500,000 hectares for durum wheat and 100,000 hectares for soft wheat, against a current five-year average of 537,000 hectares.
In addition, barley cultivation is expected to increase from an average area of 341,000 hectares to 500,000 hectares while triticale will be grown on 50,000 hectares.
“The new strategy plans to ensure the sustainable development of cereal production capacity, to finance the actors, and to develop the various value chains within the sector. It is also a question of developing the economic and social environment of the sector”, the ministry statement said.
In Tunisia, wheat and barley are the main cultivated cereals. However, the country is experiencing an episode of prolonged drought that has hit the country coupled with the rise in input prices which is also driving up production costs.
According to the authorities, once these objectives have been achieved, the production system should be able to provide a maximum stock of 2.5 million tonnes of cereals per year, i.e., more than half of the country’s consumption needs.
As Tunisia prepares to boost production, the country’s Cereals Office (OC) recently invested 13 million dinars (US$4.3 million) to implement a project aimed at increasing its cereal storage capacity in the city of Bizerte.
According to information relayed by the local daily Africanmanager, this new initiative should make it possible to increase the storage capacity of the silo operated by the OC in the port of Bizerte to 30,000 tonnes, against a current level of only 13,000 tonnes.
In addition, The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Tunisia in July signed a loan agreement worth US$87.1 million (TND 267.56 million) to finance the Inclusive and Sustainable Development Support Programme for the Grain Sector (PADIFIC) aimed at increasing the country’s strategic grain storage capacity
The Ministry of Agriculture pointed out that as much as Tunisia relies heavily on imports to sustain its domestic consumption of cereals, the country has ramped up efforts to improve local production to reduce overreliance on imports and promote localization.