Algeria's difficulties ensuring its food security were discussed in depth at a June 15 seminar bringing together the Algerian Business Leaders' Forum (Forum des chefs d’entreprise - FCE) and the National Chamber of Agriculture (CNA).
During the meeting, participants stressed the country's high degree of food dependency, with food imports accounting for approximately 70 percent of Algerians' calorie intake. This dependence on international markets is all the more worrisome given the recent spike in the price of certain agricultural raw materials.
According to FCE President Réda Hamiani, this situation of food dependency "calls for courageous and decisive measures from government authorities and a real commitment from economic players." On this last point, Hamiani believes it is necessary to end the "disconnect" between Algeria's agribusiness sector and the "agricultural upstream" by enabling the former to supply itself from the latter, significantly reducing the need to turn to imports. Hamiani believes that renewing the relationship between Algerian manufacturers and farmers, therefore, could help to strengthen the country's food security.
However, Algeria's struggles to ensure its food security are due precisely to the fact that the "agricultural upstream" is facing serious problems: difficulties accessing water, climate conditions that are at times unfavorable, farms with low levels of mechanization, inadequate infrastructure, problems with farmland ownership, increasing production costs, etc. Moreover, the Algerian government allocates only three percent of its budget to agriculture.
As Hocine Abdelghafour, Director of Studies for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development points out, Algeria's agricultural production has dropped 30 percent in the last 30 years. This situation shows the absence of a bona fide agricultural policy in a country that uses oil revenues to finance the massive import of foodstuffs.
Furthermore, these concerns about Algeria's food dependence could become more acute with the country's upcoming membership in the WTO, as the strategy to completely liberalize agricultural markets promoted by the organization could further jeopardize countries' food security.