After promising weather conditions during the planting season from mid-October to mid-December, the wheat and barley crop in Tunisia has been suffering heat damage and drought since late February, according to an April 11 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Even so, prospects for the country’s wheat and barley crop remain strong, the agency said.
“Grain and feed crops benefited from favorable conditions during the seeding period (mid-October to mid-December) and into the early growing season but became hampered in March by unfavorable temperatures and rainfall,” the USDA said. “Nevertheless, Post’s observed development of Tunisia’s wheat and barley crop remains favorable overall, including in typically marginal southern production areas. While rainfall has been sparse over the last month, potential grain output remains substantial as the crop enters a critical growing stage. Crop conditions in late April typically have the most influence in determining Tunisia’s resulting yield.”
The USDA said Tunisia’s wheat and barley output for the 2017-18 marketing year is forecast at 1.2 million tonnes and 500,000 tonnes, respectively. Meanwhile, wheat consumption for 2017-18 is forecast at 2.975 million tonnes, while barley consumption is forecast at 1.130 million tonnes, the USDA noted.
“Based on surveys prepared by the National Institute for Statistics and the National Institute for Consumption, Post calculates consumption of durum and common wheat has shifted over last decade from a 50:50 split to a 40:60 split in favor of common wheat,” the USDA noted in the report. “Although Tunisia continues to support farm-gate prices to encourage wheat production, it also attempts to provide price support to consumers by subsidizing bread flour and controlling bread prices, which ultimately supports both the local population, which the United Nations estimates at 11.5 million, as well as the approximately 6.5 million tourists that the government projects will visit Tunisia in 2017. Many tourists will come from Algeria and Libya and have similar consumption habits.”
To cover demand and in an effort to rebuild stocks, the USDA said Tunisia’s wheat imports in the 2017-18 marketing year are forecast at 2 million tonnes while barley imports are forecast at 750,000 tonnes.