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Algeria to halt durum, barley imports until year-end

Strong harvest and stock-building means north African nation can freeze imports, says state commodities agent

Reuters, Wednesday 6 Jun 2012

Algeria will import no more durum wheat or barley for the rest of 2012 because of a strong harvest and stock-building earlier in the year, the head of the state grain agency said on Wednesday.

"We can say we now have enough quantities of durum wheat and barley to meet our needs, so we will import only soft wheat for the rest of this year," Nouredine Kahel, head of the OAIC state grain agency, told Algerian radio.
He also said that the domestic grain harvest this year would be between 5.6 million tonnes and 5.8 million tonnes. That was up on the previous forecast of 5.5 million tonnes.
Algeria, an energy exporter with a population of about 37 million people, is one of the world's ten biggest grain importers.
Last year its cereal imports reached 7.42 million tonnes, the largest amount since the country became independent from France in 1962.
The high imports were down to a poor domestic harvest and also because officials were anxious about contagion from the Arab Spring uprisings. They wanted to make sure they had enough stocks to avoid food price rises and the resulting social unrest.
This year was set to be another poor harvest because of drought, but a heavy snowfall in February - highly unusual for Africa's northern tip - saved the crops.
Kahel said that the area of farmland under cereals this season was 3.3 million hectares. He said durum wheat and barley each accounted for 40 percent of this area, with the rest under soft wheat.
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