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April 15, 2008

Algeria expects increased wheat harvest

Algeria, one of the main state grain importers in North Africa, does not need more wheat import for what remains of the 2007/08 commercial period because it has "considerable stocks" and is expecting better harvest, its agriculture minister said on April 11.

"Algeria's cereals stocks are considerable and it expects a higher domestic harvest of cereals this year. It would return to imports only for the need to diversify grain seeds," Said Barakat was quoted by the Algerian official news agency APS as telling parliament during a debate on farming.

He gave no figures on the levels of wheat stocks or the expected cereals crop but he said the government would offer higher prices for wheat farmers for the upcoming season to buy domestic wheat. "The government has decided to buy cereals from local farmers at prices which would be close to the prices in the international market," he added.

Traders say Algeria has stepped up imports of milling wheat since July last year, importing around 4.0 million tonnes that included 150,00 tonnes of soft wheat bought early this month.

Algeria increased its subsidies and incentives, including soft loans, to farmers to boost domestic wheat crop.

Average annual cereals harvest rose from 2.1 million tonnes in the 1990s to 3.1 million tonnes for the 2000-2007 period, according to official figures.

Algeria harvested 4.3 million tonnes of cereals in 2007, which APS said accounted for half of the country's consumption needs.


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