Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Tunisia: Will Russian wheat shipment put an end to bread queues?

Friday 08/September/2023 - 08:09 PM
The Reference


The bread crisis in Tunisia is approaching an end after it received a Russian wheat shipment on Wednesday, August 23, amounting to 27.5 thousand tons of soft wheat, at a time when the country has been experiencing a crisis in which bakeries ran out of bread in the early hours of every day, which resulted in queues spreading in front of bread shops.

The bread crisis, which has been going on for months, is due to a drought season that has struck Tunisia for the fourth year in a row due to a lack of rain, coinciding with the crisis of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which affected the movement of grain around the world exported from Russia and Ukraine.

The Tunisian Ministry of Trade and Export Development had promised a week ago, with the intensification of the crisis, to supply mills with shipments to provide bread throughout the day.

This represents the first test for new Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani, as he faces complex issues, the most important of which is the provision of grain, despite not growing it internally, and the repercussions of imports in conjunction with a pressing Tunisian economic crisis.

Tunisia has suffered from the disappearance of many basic commodities, but the bread shortage had a major impact. An Italian study issued in 2021 recorded that Tunisia ranked second in the world in terms of consumption of bread and pastries after Italy.


Punishing monopolists for reasons other than importation

The head of the Finance Committee in the Tunisian parliament, Issam Chouchen, heralded in press statements the imminent end of the crisis, and while he pointed to the wheat shipment coming to Tunisia as a reason for the breakthrough, he stressed that punishing monopolists and reviewing the legislative and legal texts for unclassified bakeries and bakeries that make bread and pastries were all reasons to control the crisis.

Chouchen said that Tunisia has not “currently reached the point where flour or bread is cut off from the markets,” stressing that Tunisia’s stock from the new shipment is sufficient for the country’s needs for the next two months.

He expected the pace of the crisis to subside, not only due to the availability of flour, but also due to the approaching end of the tourist season, which brought in 5 million tourists during the summer.

It is noteworthy that Tunisian media reported last Thursday that the head of the National Chamber of Bakery Owners, Mohamed Bouanane, was detained on charges of monopoly and speculation in foodstuffs.

Tunisia tried to avoid all repercussions of the current economic crisis through its negotiations with the IMF to obtain financing worth $1.9 billion, but the cessation of negotiations prevented the completion of the loan.