Tunisia Surges Farm-Gate Prices for Local Wheat and Barley
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According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Tunisian seeded area for Wheat increased from 579,000 HA in MY 2022/23 to 620,000 HA in MY 2023/24. Seeded area includes 550,000 HA of durum Wheat and 70,000 HA of common Wheat. The seeded area for Barley is 332,000 HA, down from 430,000 HA in MY 2022/23. Irrigated area of Wheat and Barley slightly increased from 74,000 HA to 80,000 HA. The increase in Wheat planted area and the decrease in Barley planted area are due to the Government of Tunisia’s increase of farm-gate Wheat prices.
Post forecasts MY 2023/24 Wheat production at 800,000 MT and Barley output at 220,000 MT. Planting was completed by mid-December following unfavorable weather conditions (insufficient rainfall/low soil moisture). Rainfall was low in January and February 2023, and Wheat and Barley struggled under high temperatures. USDA field visits in March 2023 confirmed that despite low pest and disease pressures and sufficient fertilizer supplies, the Tunisian Wheat crop is experiencing hydric stress and below-average vegetation growth. (Contacts report that fertilizer supplies are low, but given weak production, fertilizer demand has fallen).
Tunisian Wheat sector contacts estimate that production could decrease by as much as 30 to 40 percent compared to MY 2022/23, especially if the crops do not receive enough rainfall in April 2023. Seed availability was reported as usual during the sowing period. (Planting runs typically from mid-October to mid-December). Based on official Tunisian estimates, Post revised production upward in MY 2022/23 from 1.20 MMT to 1.23 MMT for Wheat and from 420,000 MT to 460,000 MT for Barley due to a higher-than-expected harvest.
Total domestic consumption is forecast to slightly increase to 3.05 MMT, reflecting the average population growth trend of approximately two percent. Per capita consumption is estimated at around 251 kg in 2023/24, with a population of 12.155 million. Tunisia’s Barley consumption in MY 2023/24 is forecast at 1.16 MMT, reflecting the same average growth trend of roughly two percent. Barley is consumed mainly in feedlots and as supplemental feed, especially when rangelands are stressed. USDA crop survey indicates that Tunisian sheep and goats’ rangeland is below average. April rains will determine the viability as a feed source for MY 2022/23.
Tunisian Wheat Production Policy
Over the last two decades, Tunisian farmers have declined to plant Wheat, resulting in the planted area falling by approximately 600,000 hectares or 37.5 percent since 2003. By raising prices, the Government aims to increase planting. Currently, Tunisia produces about one-third of its total Wheat and Barley consumption.
Tunisia increased farm-gate prices for domestic Wheat and Barley to stimulate local production and counter inflation. Price changes are as follows:
• Durum Wheat: 1,300 TD/MT ($436/MT). Increased from 1,000 TD/MT ($339/MT),
• Common Wheat: 1,000 TD/MT ($336/MT). Increased from 800 TD/MT ($271/MT),
• Barley: 800 TD/MT ($267/MT). Increased from 690 TD/MT ($233/MT).
Other Tunisian domestic support policies remain unchanged from MY 2022/23. To achieve the Government’s self-sufficiency goal of reaching an average annual production of 3 MMT for cereals, of which 1.7 MMT is durum Wheat, state-sponsored programs include:
• Subsidizing certified seeds,
• Subsidizing 50 percent of agricultural machinery costs and 40-50 percent of irrigation equipment costs, · Subsidizing irrigation water $0.07/m3 (32 percent of the cost) to encourage increasing the irrigated Wheat area to 120,000 HA,
• Providing technical assistance to irrigated Wheat farmers to increase yields.
Tunisia’s Office des Cereales (Cereal Board) maintains an official monopoly on the inventory, purchase, and sale of Wheat and Barley for the domestic market. However, the collection of local production has been privatized for both crops. Collection by the Cereal Board currently accounts for 40-60 percent of Wheat production and 10-40 percent of Barley production
Other sources: USDA
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