ALGIERS, 12 February 2021 – Algeria is banking on additional and significant investments in agriculture to create jobs, boost incomes, limit food imports and strengthen food security, recent data shows.
The plan is to drastically reduce food imports – about 20 percent of food consumption in 2019, according to reports – costing a total $8.07 billion.
Algeria’s agriculture minister, Abdelhamid Hamdani, announced this week that the government plans to cut total spending on imported food by at least $2.5 billion, notably by boosting domestic output and rationing spending on purchases from abroad.
“It is imperative to modernize the (agricultural) sector and provide all facilities for farmers,” Hamdani told parliament.
“The government should … move to other sectors, such as agriculture to avoid financial shocks caused by oil crises,” said Mustapha Djabane, head of the parliament agriculture committee.
Faced with dwindling earnings from oil and gas, the Algerian government has been providing loans at low interest rates for farmers to grow other crops, including bananas.
In 2019, the north African nation and OPEC member state imported and distributed crops and seeds to farmers worth an estimated $35 million.
In 2020, Algerian imports overall declined 18 percent to $34.4 billion as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted global trade.
The deficit widened because export earnings dropped during the same year by 33% percent to $23.8 billion.
Crude oil and gas account for 94 percent of total export revenues and 60 percent of the state budget.