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Food Balance Deficit in Tunisia Hits 58% | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Workers harvest wheat in a field at the outskirts of Beja governorate, about 115 km north of the capital Tunis June 14, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Tunisia- The latest data released by the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries showed that the deficit in the food trade balance till April 2017 has increased by 58 percent compared to the first four months of last year.

This deficit affected the export-import coverage ratio, which dropped more than seven points from 74.9 percent to 67.4 percent. Governmental sources pointed out that the deficit recorded in the food trade balance surged from 310.6 million dinars (over $120 million) by the end of April 2016 to around 490.9 million dinars (over $200 million) by the end of April 2017, which means that the deficit hit 180.3 million dinars. Tunisian food imports remarkably increased by 21.9 percent, while exports slightly surged by 9.8 percent.

During this season of the year, Tunisia’s imports of grains and meat hike by half in order to supply the local markets with the basic consumer products and face the growing demand during the Holy month of Ramadan. Imports of grains jumped 25 percent to 679.8 million dinars.

Tunisia annually consumes over 30 quintal of grains, while the local product ranging between 14 and 18 million quintal barely covers part of the country’s needs. This scarcity compels the government to import the rest of grain needs mainly from European countries.

Exports of vegetable oils considered the core of Tunisian food exports reached around 483 million dinars ($190 million) since the beginning of the season and till the end of April. The European Union acquires the lion share of oil exports.

On the other hand, the committee of finance, planning, and development in the Tunisian parliament has ratified a draft-law concerning a loan agreement between Tunisia and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with a value of 53 million dinars.

The loan aims at funding a project to empower the agriculture sector and local growth in western Tunisia. This project will improve the living conditions of 14,000 Tunisian families, as it targets the low-income categories, and provides job opportunities by improving agricultural activities.

The project will also focus on developing capacities of farmers and the young generation interested in agricultural projects to improve the quality of local products and open new perspectives to promote them locally and abroad.