Algeria struggle with wheat production, now turns to France


Like most rural Moroccans, Algerians are also praying for rain to help their own wheat crops, which are in danger of drying up, or in some cases, freezing due to cold weather. Yet due to shortages locally, Algeria began relying on black sea exports, until more recently when they have had to turn to EU countries, according to TSA Algeria.

French  wheat  is back on the Algerian market. According to FranceAgriMer, between July and December 2022, wheat exports to Maghreb countries reached nearly 1.5 million tonnes; a 30% increase.

Algeria was the second buyer ahead of Morocco. For 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture USDA estimates Algeria’s grain purchases at around $2.25 billion.

Long before the Ukrainian crisis, the Algerian Cereals Office (OAIC) ​​began to  take an interest in wheat  from the Black Sea, particularly Russia.

In November 2021, the Algerian Cereals Office (OAIC) ​​launched an international call for tenders for 50,000 tonnes of wheat. On this occasion, the Office indicates that it is modifying its specifications.

In December 2021, Algeria made a major purchase of Russian wheat. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, this is “the diversification of our suppliers, after the revision last year of the specifications”.

The situation in the Black Sea is currently resulting in an increase in logistics costs and a drastic drop in Ukrainian exports. This situation may explain the return to competitiveness of French wheat on the Algerian market.

In terms of cereal production, the Algerian public authorities have adopted a proactive policy mainly focused on supporting producers.

The past campaign has seen the application of a new scale of producer prices. The price per quintal rose from 33 USD to 44 USD for durum wheat and from 25.75 USD to 36.70 USD for soft wheat. A first since 2008.

Fertilizers also saw their prices supported by 50% and those of certified seeds by 20%. Added to this is the granting of subsidized loans and support for irrigation equipment.

These financial measures as well as the multiplication of collection points have enabled local wheat production to progress.

Drought of course remains a huge problem both in Morocco and in Algeria.

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With the accentuation of global warming, Algerian wheat production is subject to the risk of drought in spring but also in autumn during the critical sowing period.

Before the current snowfall, some regions had received very little rain and cereal plots were already damaged. If in the semi-arid regions of Italy, Spain or Australia the agricultural services have been able to develop the adaptations necessary for the establishment of crops in dry conditions, Algerian producers are still using the  “archaic techniques of the 1960s” .

Asked by Algerian television about the situation of cereals in Algeria, Zoubar Ali, in charge of the regulation and development of agricultural production, said he hoped for the arrival of rain.

Supplementary irrigation is encouraged, but remains minimal given the hundreds of thousands of hectares sown with cereals. And out of 7 million hectares reserved for the cultivation of cereals (wheat and barley) in Algeria, 40% remain unproductive each year due to fallow.

During a previous government-walis meeting, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune spoke of the need for the ” modernization of minds ” in the agricultural field.


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