An exceptional programme to make available some 700,000 quintals of grain seeds, including 200,000 quintals of selected seeds, has been launched by the Grain Board (OTC) for the 2024 season to counter the effects of the rainfall deficit, its CEO, Bechir Kthiri, said on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries in Tunis, Kthiri announced that agricultural authorities were working to build up durum wheat reserves of 500,000 quintals to meet seed requirements for the 2024-2025 season.

The official said an exceptional additional premium of 10 dinar/quintal had been decided for grain delivered to collection centres in the regions during the 2023 season.

He also said there would be a rescheduling of the debts of farmers in the disaster areas who had taken out loans for the 2022-2023 season. In addition, farmers who are members of the Natural Disaster Fund and whose production has been affected by the drought will be compensated before the next agricultural season.

The Ministry of Agriculture expects a production of around 2.5 million quintals of grain in the current season, compared with 11 million quintals in 2022, due to the 65% reduction in autumn rainfall and the fact that only 76% of the areas originally planned have been planted.

The Ministry of Agriculture pointed out that this season’s storage capacity is 7.9 million quintals. 156 grain collection centres and 26 groups have been mobilised for this harvest, in addition to the planned use of 26 laboratories to assess the quality of the grain collected this season.

The Grain Board Office has received 418 million dinars in funding from BNA Bank, of which 227.3 million dinars are earmarked for financing purchases by collectors who have applied for funding (9 private collectors and 4 cooperatives).

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse