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Algerian stats show wheat buying spree in early 2011

Government increased its wheat imports to protect itself from food shortages and ward off further popular unrest

Reuters, Tuesday 26 Apr 2011

Algeria imported 1.65 million tonnes of wheat in the first quarter of 2011, Algerian customs data showed on Monday.

Out of the total wheat imported, 1.297 million tonnes was soft wheat, and the rest was durum wheat, according to a customs service document obtained by Reuters.

Algeria's government went on a wheat buying spree at the start of the year in response to worries that food shortages could spark unrest of the kind that later toppled leaders in Egypt and neighbouring Tunisia.

The customs service gave no figures for previous quarters, but the first-quarter imports amount to over 30 per cent of Algeria's annual grain imports.

Algeria is the world's seventh biggest importer of grain, with imports last year of 5.232 million tonnes, government customs data showed.

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