Tunis/Tunisia — The progress rate of the harvest season reached 74% of the fields, i.e. 885 thousand hectares, on a total area planted of 1 million and 160 thousand hectares, at the end of June 2020.
During the same period, 5.5 million quintals of grain were collected, compared to 6.1 million quintals during the same period in 2019.
Tunisia is expected to produce 15.7 million quintals during this season, compared to a record crop of 24 million quintals in the previous season.
According to forecasts, 7 million quintals of grain will be collected, against 12.9 million quintals last year.
Director General of the agricultural production at the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries Abdelfatah Said told TAP that the harvest operation is advancing in June considerably.
He expressed hope that the climate conditions will help to complete the harvest in good circumstances and to reduce the damage or losses as much as possible.
The storage and transportation of the crop are going well, he said, denying any problems with the storage centres, especially with the modest harvesting methods.
The burned areas reached 500 hectares, most of which were charred after the end of the harvest.
However other problems were noted, such as the delay in granting delivery bonuses to farmers, he added, saying the Ministry contacted the National Agricultural Bank (BNA) to disburse this grant immediately.
For the quality of the grains, despite the difficult weather conditions recorded with the start of the harvest season (the lack of rain and the spread of fungal diseases), the official said the quality of the grains this season is average due to drought and lack of nitrogen fertilisers, in addition to the repercussions of the general lockdown.
The lack of rains will inevitably lead to damages in several production zones and classify them as disaster zones, such as the Governorates of Kef, Zaghouan, Siliana and certain regions of the governorate of Beja.
According to preliminary data published by the local agricultural development committees, the areas affected or damaged are estimated at 150 thousand hectares.
Concerning the expenses of the harvest for a period of more than a month, they reached approximately 5 million dinars (MD): 3 MD for the harvest and 2 MD for the rental of machines, transport and labour.
As for the programmes to purchase grain by the State, the official said the average annual needs are at 28 million quintals, among which the grains harvested at a national level. Therefore, 14 million quintals of grain and common wheat will be imported.
He also recalled that an international call for tender to purchase grains was launched since March 2020, indicating that world prices have experienced a slight increase in recent months, depending on supply and demand and availability of world production.