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  Tunisia

Reference Date: 31-May-2019

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Bumper cereal production expected in 2019

  2. Cereal imports in 2019/20 forecast to decrease

  3. Annualized food inflation eased in April 2019 compared to month earlier

Bumper cereal production expected in 2019

The 2019 barley is being harvested, while the harvest of wheat crop will take place in June. The above‑average precipitations across the main growing areas between September and the first decade of November encouraged early planting and provided a sufficient soil moisture for the crop establishment and development. Favourably distributed rains in sufficient quantity continued into spring. In the first decade of April and later in May, abundant rainfall resulted in localized waterlogging, particularly in the Kairouan region.

Preliminary forecasts for the 2019 cereal production point to a bumper cereal crop of almost 2.2 million tonnes, over 55 percent above the 2018 weather-stricken harvest and over 40 percent above the average. For the 2019 harvest, about 700 000 hectares were planted with wheat and 620 000 hectares with barley, compared to 620 000 and 525 000 hectares, respectively, planted in 2018. Seeds and fertilizers were available across the country.

The country aims to reach a domestic production of 2.7 million tonnes of cereals per year. Policy instruments used include guaranteed farm-gate prices (TDD 750/USD 250 per tonne of durum wheat, TDD 540/USD 180 per tonne of common wheat and TDD 480/USD 160 per tonne of barley in the 2018/19 marketing year), subsidized input and irrigation water prices as well as technical assistance to irrigated wheat production. Domestic 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.

Cereal imports in 2019/20 forecast to decrease

The country relies heavily on grain imports, mainly wheat, even in years with good production. Accordingly, reflecting a bumper domestic harvest, cereal import requirements in the current 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are put at about 2.9 million tonnes, some 20 percent below the imports of the previous marketing year and the five‑year average.

Annualized food inflation eased in April 2019

In spite of the country’s high import dependency rate, changes in international grain prices do not fully translate into changes in domestic prices as the Government’s universal food subsidy programme keeps prices of wheat products and vegetable oil stable. Overall, the food and beverage Consumer Price Index (CPI) in April 2019 recorded an increase 6.6 percent on a year‑on‑year basis, down from 7.5 percent in March. The food price inflation in April was driven by higher prices of fresh vegetables, eggs, dairy products and meat.

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