Tunisia grain crop hit by floods: officials

Mon Mar 5, 2012 6:32am GMT
 

TUNIS (Reuters) - The grain harvest in Tunisia will be affected by recent floods, which destroyed about 14,000 hectares of land devoted to the cultivation of cereals, officials said on Sunday.

"About 14,000 hectares of grain area was damaged," Habib Jomli, a senior agriculture ministry official, said. "These floods will have a negative impact on the grain harvest this year ... The affected areas are Beja, Bizerte and Jendouba."

These areas in the northwest of Tunisia are among the most productive areas for grain cultivation in the country, but saw unusually heavy rainfall in the first two months of 2012 with several areas flooded.

More than 1 million hectares were planted with grain this year. Tunisia harvested 2.3 million tons of grain in 2011.

Tunisia, which has large areas of arid land, has to import much of the grain that its population of 10 million consumes.

It imports mainly soft wheat and barley as it allocates most of its fertile and irrigated land to durum wheat.

Harvest yields in the North African country swing sharply due to cyclical drought, with the average crop at 1.7 million tonnes for the past decade. Like other parts of North Africa, Tunisia has seen some unusually heavy rainfalls and snow in some areas this year.

A farmer fills a container with wheat after harvesting a field of wheat in France, July 30, 2008.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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