ALGERIA – The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has slashed Algeria’s wheat and barley outlook for the marketing year 2023-24 following an ongoing drought and heat conditions in the country’s non-irrigated areas.

According to USDA, ongoing below-average precipitation levels during important crop development periods led to this downward outlook, particularly in coastal and highland areas. Irrigated areas, however, in southern Algeria fared better with yields ranging from 45 to 80 quintals per hectare.

For MY 2023/24, Post revises production forecasts down to 2.7 million metric tons (MMT) for wheat and 1.02 MMT for barley compared to MY 2022/23 forecast of 3.3 million tonnes of wheat and 1.4 million tonnes of barley. 

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

However, although domestic production has improved over the years, it remains weather-driven and does not meet domestic demand.

According to USDA, given the unfavorable outlook, Algeria is strengthening its wheat reserves through imports hence Post maintains its alignment with USDA’s official estimate raising wheat imports to 8.7 million MT and barley imports to 700,000 MT in MY 2023/24.

Additionally, trade reports reveal that the Algerian Office of Cereals (OAIC) made several purchases on the international market, mostly optional milling wheat (bread wheat), sourced primarily from Russia.

On consumption, Post revises FSI consumption estimates for MY 2023/24 to reflect that most of the barley is destined for animal feed because of the unfavorable crop outlook.

Barley consumption estimates of 1.75 million tonnes reflect 1.5 million tonnes destined for animal feed because of the unfavorable crop outlook. Algeria is one of the world’s largest users of wheat, and consumption is forecast at 11.2 million tonnes.

Currently, Post estimates Algeria’s wheat area at just over 2 million hectares (ha) for the entire country.

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

According to the government, the move would help the country reach one (1) million hectares of cereal-growing land in the south of the country by 2030, with an expected yield of 70-80 quintals per hectare.

In addition, Algerian researchers recommend farmers adopt new water-saving techniques and irrigation technologies and develop new drought-resistant cereals to cope with water stress and climate change consequences.

The government is also encouraging investments in the southern region where underground water is available to develop strategic crops, particularly cereals, to reduce import needs and bolster food security.

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