Algeria is highly dependent on food imports, which leaves many Algerians vulnerable to global food price and exchange rate fluctuations. In 1997, food imports accounted for almost one third of all imports into Algeria, amounting to USD 2.8 billion.1 To protect national food security amidst high food import costs, the Algerian government launched a National Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (PNDAR) in 2002. The program targeted farm modernization, irrigation expansion, arable land expansion, preferable investments to the agricultural sector, and agricultural extension services promotion.2
The National Agricultural and Rural Development Program (PNDAR) targeted the following areas:
- modernizing farms (such as mechanization and improved farming practices);
- expanding irrigation (to reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture);
- the expansion of arable land through land reclamation;
- granting exploitation leases (to expand agricultural land, including reclaiming desert land and leases for public land);
- increasing agricultural productivity through favorable investments to the agricultural sector and promoting agricultural extension services.3
The government offered leases to foreign and local investors to reclaim and productively farm state-owned agricultural land in Algeria, in a bid to shift from state-sponsored agriculture towards a private sector-led agricultural model. All farmers were entitled to government aid to increase investment in farm productivity, mechanization and irrigation (which was particularly favored to overcome the sector’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture). Foreign investment was further promoted through tax exemptions for a three- to five-year period on VAT, customs, and corporate taxes.4
In response to rising food dependency, the government initially launched the National Agricultural Development Programme (PNDA) in 2000 in an attempt to boost food production and promote agricultural self-sufficiency aiming to ensure national food security. In 2002 the PNDA was updated to become the PNDAR.5
Under the PNDAR, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Directorate of Research, Extension and Training is responsible for providing public agricultural extension services, which includes training farmers on agricultural best practices, financial inclusion and general business development. The Ministry is supported by the National Extension Council, which provides policy and programming advice, and the National Institute of Agricultural Extension, which is responsible for the administration of extension services. A provincial Wilaya Extension Coordination Committee monitors the extension programs in the field.6
In 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched the Rural Renewal Programme to build capacity amongst agricultural extension workers and improve the living and working conditions of rural people.
Between 2000 and 2018, it is estimated that the government of Algeria allocated DZD 3,000 billion (USD 30 billion) towards the PNDAR.7
Between 1997 and 2017 (latest available data), food imports have decreased from 32 percent of total imports to 20 percent of total imports.8 Between 2008 and 2018, the production of vegetables increased from 60 million quintals to 130 million quintals, citruses from 7 million quintals to 14 million quintals, and legumes from 402 thousand quintals to 1.3 million quintals. Arable land has increased from 7.5 million hectares in 1988 to 8.5 million hectares in 2018 (of which 5.7 million is private sector-owned), whilst the proportion of irrigated arable land has increased from four percent in 1999 to 15 percent by 2018.9
Furthermore, the prevalence of severe food insecurity in the population has steadily decreased from 13 percent in 2015 (earliest available data) to 6.2 percent in 2020, whilst the prevalence of undernourishment in the population has steadily decreased from 8 percent in 2001 to 3 percent in 2020.10
However, whilst food imports have decreased proportionately, they remained substantial at USD 9.2 billion in 2017 (latest available data), and food dependency relatively remained a threat to national food security. In particular, cereal imports amounted to USD 3.1 billion in 2018.11
Studies indicate that farm modernization and government aid only benefited a minority of farmers owing to weak farmer organizations and a lack of farmer involvement.12 In addition, agricultural extension services were limited by long distances between farms, a lack of transportation to reach farms, and limited capacity and educational aids.13
Although Algeria has experienced a gradual decline in rainfall since 1975, the frequency of floods has increased, leading to increased costs and damages. Meanwhile, Algeria ranks 18th out of the 184 most exposed countries to drought according to PreventionWeb. Indeed, an estimated 3,763,800 (about 10 percent) of its population is exposed to droughts. As the country is one of the most affected by climate change (as are many countries in the Middle East and North Africa), this is expected to potentially impact the PNDAR in the future.
- 1. World Trade Organization, “ Merchandise imports (current US$) - Algeria,” accessed April 12, 2023, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.VAL.MRCH.CD.WT
- 2. Privacy Shield Framework, “Algeria - Agricultural Sector,” 2022, https://www.privacyshield.gov/article?id=Algeria-Agricultural-Sector
- 3. Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services, “World Wide Extension Survey – Algeria,” 2013, https://www.g-fras.org/en/world-wide-extension-study/120-world-wide-extension-study/north-america/120-algeria.html#training
- 4. Diplomat Magazine, “Agriculture in Algeria: a profitable investment and a cornerstone of a sustainable prosperity,” 2022, https://diplomatmagazine.eu/2022/05/02/agriculture-in-algeria-a-profitable-investment-and-a-cornerstone-of-a-sustainable-prosperity
- 5. Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services, “World Wide Extension Survey.”
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. Assafir Al-Arabi, “Revitalizing Agriculture in Algeria: When Money Is Available but Ideas Are Absent,” 2022, https://assafirarabi.com/en/46547/2022/07/27/revitalizing-agriculture-in-algeria-when-money-is-available-but-ideas-are-absent/
- 8. World Bank, “Food imports (% of merchandise imports).”
- 9. Assafir Al-Arabi, “Revitalizing Agriculture in Algeria.”
- 10. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Prevalence of severe food insecurity in the population (%) - Algeria,” 2021, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SN.ITK.SVFI.ZS
- 11. Assafir Al-Arabi, “Revitalizing Agriculture in Algeria.”
- 12. Ibid.
- 13. Ibid.