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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 30-October-2017


  1. Below-average cereal production gathered in 2017

  2. Wheat imports about same as last year

  3. Annualized food inflation increased in August 2017

Below-average cereal production gathered in 2017

Land preparation for sowing of the 2018 grain crop is currently underway under favourable weather conditions. Although in some parts sowings start in October, the bulk of the winter wheat and barley is sown in November.

Harvesting of the 2017 winter grains finished in mid-August. Generally favourable weather conditions prevailed in the northwest part of the country. However, less regular rainfall distribution in the northeast constrained the final production. The 2017 cereal production was estimated by the Government at about 3.5 million tonnes, 5 percent above the 2016 weather-stricken harvest and 17 percent below the previous five-year average (2012-2016). Some 2.35 million hectares were planted with winter cereals which were harvested in 2017, compared to the 2.2 million hectares planted in the previous season.

Being largely rainfed, cereal production is highly variable. About two‑thirds of the country’s wheat production is “durum” wheat.

Wheat imports in 2017/18 forecast at last year’s level

Even in years of ample domestic production, the country relies heavily on cereal grain imports from the international market, with common wheat being the most prominent. In the last five years, the country imported an average of about 6 million tonnes of wheat per year, representing 70 percent of its domestic utilization.

The wheat import requirements for 2017/18 (July/June) are projected at 8.2 million tonnes, marginally below the imports of last year. The country imports wheat from France, Canada, Germany, the United States of America, Spain and Mexico.

Annualized food inflation increased in August 2017

On average, food accounts for about 43 percent of the total households’ expenditures. Accordingly, overall inflation rates are heavily influenced by changes in food prices. The annualized rate of the food price inflation increased from 1.4 percent in July 2017 to 4.7 percent in August 2017. Despite the increase, the current levels of food inflation remain moderate compared to a peak of over 9 percent in February 2017, which resulted from the increase in rates of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in early 2017. Reduced VAT rates increased from 7 to 9 percent and the standard rate from 17 to 19 percent. The lower rate applies to many grain and feed products, including pasta and couscous. In addition, bread, dairy, milk, sugar and cooking oils benefit from the ongoing Government subsidies.

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