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Tunisia Grain Imports Seen 1.9% Lower by FAO After Good Harvest

Tunisia’s grain imports are forecast to be slip 1.9 percent in the 2012-13 season after an above-average cereal harvest this year, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said.

Imports may drop to 2.61 million metric tons from 2.66 million tons in 2011-12 and 3.33 million tons in 2010-11, the Rome-based FAO wrote in a country report on its website today.

Tunisia is structurally a grain buyer, tapping world markets even in good harvest years, according to the FAO. The country’s output varies from year to year depending on rainfall variations, with winter grains harvested in May and June.

“The new crop year started with above normal rainfall in September and October,” the UN agency wrote. “Above-average rainfall contributed to a recovery of water reserves, improved topsoil moisture and encouraged early winter grain planting.”

The country’s 2012 wheat harvest rose 11 percent to 1.78 million tons, while the barley crop advanced 17 percent to 800,000 tons, the FAO estimates.

Government subsidies on basic food items are keeping domestic prices in check, with year-on-year inflation of bread and cereals at 3 percent in November, the FAO wrote. Total food inflation reached 7.8 percent, driven by a jump of more than 10 percent in meat and vegetable prices, it said.

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