“Food stars of Africa” (3). Despite a good production and superior quality, the Algerian date is partly exported under a foreign label for lack of attractive marketing. A trend that the authorities promise to reverse.
“Light finger”. If the deglet nour inherited this name, it is for its length and its color honey, almost translucent, which reveals its nucleus. Consumed all year round in Algeria, especially during the Ramadan period, the date is also very popular abroad. It allowed the country to garner $ 71 million (69.3 million euros) for export in 2020, according to the Algerian Commerce and Industry Chamber (CACI) and 49 million dollars for the first five months of 2021, an increase of 19.9 % compared to the same period in 2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce. A significant foreign currency contribution while Algerian exports are essentially made up of hydrocarbons. “Less than 10,000 tonnes left abroad in the early 2000s against almost 60,000 tonnes in 2021,” says a large exporter of Biskra who wishes to keep anonymity.
The numerous subsidy policies in support of phoeniciculture, the culture of the date palm, and in particular the national agricultural and rural development plan launched in 2000, allowed producers to increase their return. In a report dating from February 2021, the Algerian agroeconomist, Mohamed Ridha Messak, indicates that the country provided 12.5 % of world production in 2019 thanks to 16 million palm trees which produced 1.2 million tonnes of dates, Mainly in the southeast regions in Biskra, El Oued, Ouargla and Ghardaïa.
If the perspectives are good for this emblematic fruit of the South Algeria, obstacles nevertheless persist for professionals in the sector. Algeria, fourth in the rank of world producers and first on the Maghreb scale, exported only 4.7 % of its production in 2019, when the neighboring Tunisia which produced 288,700 tonnes of dates that year, in exported 52 %.
In Algeria, the nature of the “market, logistics, the price, but also the administration of the banking sector” partly explain this trend, specifies Mohamed Kamel Bensalah, researcher at the scientific and technical research center in arid regions (CRSTRA) in Biskra, which points to the difficulties of storage, transport, certification but also the heavy Algerian regulations on the exchange which makes it difficult to exit Algerian capital abroad as well as their repatriation.
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