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Tunisia prevents officials from making statements about the grain crisis

March 3, 2022 at 5:10 pm

A Tunisian farmer harvests wheat on 12 June 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]

Informed sources confirmed to Arabi21 that the Tunisian authorities published instructions preventing the government employees from making statements relating to the grain crisis that the country is suffering from, and was deepened due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Tunisia secures eighty per cent of its needs of imported grain through the Russian and Ukrainian market, where it annually imports 984,000 tons of wheat from Ukraine and 111,000 tons from Russia.

According to the same sources, the Presidency of the government forced the employees to refrain from making media statements related to the grain crisis, since it is a “national security issue, and may raise the concern of citizens”.

For its part, the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture contented itself with issuing a statement on 25 February, in which it confirmed that the Cereals Office managed, during the previous period, to set the procurements program to secure the country’s needs until the end of May 2022 for hard wheat and barley, and until the end of June 2022 for common wheat.

The Ministry indicated that, during this stage, Tunisia will be away from the disturbances resulting from the conflicts in the region of the Black Sea Basin, since suppliers have replaced this region with other ones. For common wheat, they basically depended on other sources such as Argentina, Uruguay, Bulgaria and Romania and on France for fodder barley.

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In a previous statement to Arabi 21, the member of the Executive Office of the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mohamed Ragaibia, said that “war in Ukraine will affect Tunisia, which imports 30 per cent of its needs of hard wheat, and more than 90 per cent of common wheat. Russia and Ukraine secure a significant part of these needs”.

He said that this war “has an impact on world prices of grain, considering that Ukraine and Russia provide thirty per cent of the world’s grain needs.”

The price of a quintal of imported wheat to Tunisia costs about $38, while importing it costs the Treasury of the State about $550 million annually, which Tunisia pays in foreign currency.

Meanwhile, world wheat prices have surged to unprecedented historical levels, exceeding the level of 486 dollars per ton, with an increase of more than seventy per cent over the prices before the outbreak of the war.