The bread crisis is rearing its ugly face in Tunisia once more.
This comes as long queues form outside bakeries and citizens complain against bread shortages.
This also comes as Tunisia suffers a shortage of basic commodities.
Some people believe this shortage had been behind a decision by Tunisian President Kais Saied to show Prime Minister Najla Bouden the door earlier this month.
The bread crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing President Saied. Bread is a main staple in Tunisia.
Tunisia is the world’s second largest bread and pastries consumer after Italy, according to an Italian study in 2021.
Tunisian authorities come at the centre of fire from local politicians and ordinary people.
They blamed the crisis on monopolies by traders. The authorities also accused some parties of trying to take revenge on Tunisians by creating this crisis, probably alluding to the role played by politicians kicked out of the Tunisian political stage, especially those belonging to Ennahda Movement of Rached Ghannouchi who is now in prison.
Tunisian authorities acknowledge the shortage of grain as one of the causes of the crisis.
They blame the shortage on the Russian-Ukrainian war which affected the movement of grain around the world.
However, the authorities make no reference whatsoever to Tunisia’s failure to produce wheat locally.
The Reference monitored warnings early last year by farmers against a decrease in wheat output due to the drought that hit Tunisia because of the lack of rains.
As a result, some of Tunisia’s agricultural hubs have lost their production capacity for this season by between 50 and 100%.
Solution is far away
In the light of Tunisia’s financial deficit and the shortage of locally sourced grain, it seems that the months-long crisis will continue, as the Ministry of Trade and Export Development has promised to supply the mills with wheat shipments to provide bread throughout the day.
This is the first test for Tunisia’s new prime minister, as he faces complex issues, the most important of which is the provision of grain.
Tunisian writer Nizar al-Jalidi blamed the crisis on what he called ‘hidden parties’.
These parties, he said, are behind the outbreak of the bread crisis.
“They want all Tunisians to know that one of the most important components of their diet has disappeared,” al-Jalidi told The Reference.
The crisis impinges on the popularity of President Saied and the legitimacy of the July 25 state.
Al-Jalidi said Tunisians rallied around the president, ten years after the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Tunisia.
“A large number of people are still rallying behind the president, despite this crisis,” al-Jalidi said.