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Algeria buys wheat to avoid shortage and unrest

The Algerian government purchased one million tons of wheat ahead of possible shortages that could trigger political unrest and further riots

Reuters, Tuesday 18 Jan 2011
Algerian wheat
Algeria riots made the goveremnt in Algeria to purchase more wheat to case of further political upheals. (photo: Reuters)

Algeria state grains agency OAIC has purchased around 1 million tons of wheat in the past two weeks to avoid shortages in case of unrest, a source at the ministry of agriculture told Reuters.

The OAIC's director, Nouredine Kahel, refused to make any comment, but a source at the ministry said that there are three main reasons behind Algeria's decision to buy big quantities in a short period of time.

"One is that we want to make sure that we do have enough wheat in case of unrest," the source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Several Algerian towns including the capital experienced days of rioting earlier this month, triggered by a sharp rise in food prices. Two people were killed and hundreds were injured during clashes between rioters and police, officials said.

To calm the situation, Algeria has decided to cut the cost of some foodstuffs and to increase by 18 per cent the amount of soft wheat it supplies to the local market each month.

"This is the second reason behind Algeria's decision to buy big quantities of wheat," the source said.

The amount of soft wheat OAIC supplies to processors will go up from 350,000 tons to 430,000 tons per month from 9 Jan. until 31 Aug., according to officials.

"The third reason is that we need to cover the period from March to June as the upcoming harvest will only be available in August," the source said.

Algeria, the world's fifth-biggest cereals importer, has launched a plan in 2008 to reduce its dependency on imports.

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