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  Tunisia

Reference Date: 10-May-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Favourable crop conditions despite lower-than-average rainfall

  2. Below-average cereal harvest gathered in 2016 due to lack of precipitation at beginning of season

  3. Food inflation increasing

  4. Economic growth slows down again

Favourable crop conditions despite lower-than-average rainfall

Harvesting of winter grains usually starts in mid-May and concludes in June. So far, crop conditions remain favourable despite lower-than-average rainfall in February and March. In the current crop year, some 800 000 hectares were planted with wheat, compared to 610 000 hectares in the previous year.

Normal availability of seeds and fertilizers is reported. In Tunisia, crop production varies markedly from year to year because of the significant rainfall variations. The irrigated wheat area represents less than 15 percent of the total wheat planted area.

Below-average cereal harvest gathered in 2016

Although favourable weather conditions prevailed for most of the 2016 season, the lack of precipitation in the beginning of the crop year limited the area sown with winter cereals. Consequently, a well below‑average cereal harvest of 1.3 million tonnes was gathered in 2016. At this level, production was 9 percent higher than the previous year’s below‑average crop but 32 percent below the five‑year average.

Tunisia relies heavily on grain imports, mainly wheat, even in good production years. Accordingly, cereal import requirements in the current 2016/17 marketing year (July/June) are put at about 3.9 million tonnes, about 4 percent lower than last year and 15 percent higher than the five‑year average.

Food inflation increasing

In spite of the country’s high import dependency rate, changes in international grain prices do not fully translate into changes in domestic prices, mainly due to the Government subsidies on basic food items. Prices of wheat products, the main staple in the country, are relatively stable as reflected by the very low inflation rate of bread and cereals (less than 3 percent on a yearly basis since January 2012). Overall, the food and beverage Consumer Price Index (CPI) in March 2017 recorded an increase of 5 percent on a year‑on‑year basis, compared to around 1 percent in February 2016.

Economic growth slowed down again in 2016

The economy was slowly recovering from the 1.8 percent contraction in 2011, although the continuing risk of terrorist attacks and their negative impact on the economy, together with the slow recovery in the European Union (Tunisia’s main trading partner) are affecting the recovery. Real GDP growth in 2016 was estimated by the National Statistical Institute at 1 percent. Some recovery is likely in 2017 but will remain below the pre-revolution average slowed down by sluggish demand and social tensions. As such, it will not be sufficient to tackle high unemployment rates, currently at 15 percent.