Reference Date: 20-October-2020
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Above‑average cereal production harvested in 2020
Wheat import requirements forecast to remain stable
Decline in global oil prices constrains local economy
Above‑average cereal harvest gathered in 2020
Land preparation for sowing of the 2021 grain crops is currently ongoing under favourable weather conditions. Although in some parts of the country sowings start in October, the bulk of the winter wheat and barley is sown in November.
Harvesting of the 2020 winter grains was completed by mid‑August. Being largely rainfed, cereal yields are highly variable and depend on rainfall amounts and distribution, which, despite some differences between regions, were both generally favourable during the 2019/20 agricultural season. Favourable growing conditions in northeastern regions compensated for some production shortfalls in western regions that were affected by dry weather conditions. Overall, the 2020 cereal production is estimated at an above‑average level of 5.6 million tonnes, about 8 percent below the 2019 record level.
Despite several measures implemented to contain the spread of the COVID‑19 pandemic, no major disruptions to the agricultural supply chains were reported. The Ministry of Agriculture instructed the relevant offices to continue with the regular agricultural activities as well as to provide transportation and health protection for agricultural workers to guarantee the continuity of the agricultural supply chain.
Wheat imports in 2020/21 to remain stable
Even in years with ample domestic production, the country relies heavily on imports of cereal grains, with common wheat being the most prominent. In the last five years, the country’s import requirement was on average about 7.9 million tonnes of mostly common wheat per year, representing about 70 percent of its domestic utilization.
Owing to the stable domestic supplies and adequate stocks, the wheat import requirements for the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June) are projected at 7 million tonnes, slightly below the imports of the previous year. The country imports wheat from France, Canada, Germany, the United States of America, Spain and Mexico.
Decline of oil prices impacts economy
The country is dependent on petroleum and natural gas exports for export earnings. The economy contracted 3.9 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2020 (last data available), compared to an average growth of 0.8 percent in 2019 and mostly due to a decline of the oil sector. Lack of employment opportunities are likely to impact the purchasing power of workers, particularly in the informal sector. The collapse in the prices of crude oil in March 2020 deepened the economic uncertainty. In response to the oil price shock, the Government announced its intention to lower current spending by 30 percent (8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product or USD 15 billion), while maintaining the wages and protecting health and education spending.
In line with the strategy to control spending and balance the decline in energy earnings, in early September 2020, the Government introduced changes to the consumption subsidies of both common and durum wheat. The new decree maintains the consumer retail price of 1 kg of “ordinary” (common wheat) flour at DZD 27.50 (equivalent to USD 0.21) and the price of a 100 kg bag for bakeries at DZD 2 000 (USD 15.56). Likewise, the retail price of 1 kg of semolina is fixed between DZD 38.5 and DZD 42.50 (USD 0.30‑USD 0.33), depending on the degree of coarseness. However, the Algerian Office of Cereals (OAIC) will sell to flourmills, at a non‑subsidized price, both common and durum wheat intended for milling into other types of flour as well as production of pasta, couscous and other products.
The annual rate of the general price inflation between January and August 2020 ranged from 1.2 to 3 percent. In August 2020, food prices declined by 1.8 percent year on year, down from an increase of 2.3 percent recorded in June 2020.
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