Interview: Kaci Ibrahim
What is the impact of Algeria’s efforts to reduce imports and improve agricultural production?
KACI IBRAHIM: It is too early to measure the impact. It will take time to assess the effectiveness of the strategy adopted by the government, which is to develop agriculture and agro-food industry with the goal of achieving national food self-sufficiency.
To me, there appears to be several steps to implement in order to achieve this. First, there needs to be a strategic increase of arable land, which is an area of huge potential. This should be done by developing agricultural land – including in southern areas of the country – using modern and appropriate technical and technological means. Second, there needs to be liberalisation with respect to access to land. It is important to consider measures to revise the current legal status of public lands, which are currently assigned by concession agreements to specific parties.
Last, it is important to acquire modern seed technology in order to bolster our country’s agricultural independence. By means of this technology we can obtain the autonomous reproduction of our agricultural resources.
How do you expect the creation of the “Made in Algeria” label will impact the industry?
IBRAHIM: The “Made in Algeria” label entitled “Origine Algérie Garantie” commits the country to excellence, especially in niches where it possesses rich assets and comparative advantages. The other impact is that, in order to maintain the prestige of our label – and any other certifications – we will have to acquire the necessary expertise to meet the new standards promised by the label.
This will help to foster the continual acquisition and learning of new techniques, resulting in a more encouraging and enabling environment. Partnerships will also play a key role in the implementation of the label, so it should lead to increased partnerships, including with foreign partners.
How can Algeria maximise its competitiveness in terms of food products for export?
IBRAHIM: Algeria possesses certain comparative advantages, including high agricultural potential and a favourable climate. As a result, it is possible to envisage a more vigorous development of a processing industry related to and consistent with our agricultural potential, with a focus on the development of “excellence niches” linked to traditional agriculture such as citrus fruits, grapes, wheat, olive oil, dates and vegetable crops.
Additionally, by developing local petrochemical feedstock from our fossil energy, we will be able to use the inputs for the production of products, such as the preforms, closures and labels for use in the beverage industry. At present we also possess a number of other comparative advantages, such as abundant, affordable labour and competitive energy prices. A weaker dinar is likely to strengthen Algeria’s export potential.
What are the challenges that agri-businesses face in terms of marketing and distribution?
IBRAHIM: In terms of challenges, first and foremost we are faced with foreign competition, recognisable by its affordable product offerings and modern presentation. Many competitors also benefit from internationally known branding, which boosts confidence with consumers. Second, in Algeria we have to deal with an inadequate distribution network. We lack the large distribution channels that supermarkets and hypermarkets could provide, as well as the necessary group purchasing organisations. There are additional logistical limitations, specifically the inadequate cold chain, issues with packaging and a general shortage of standards.
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