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Voices in the Algerian produce sector are urging authorities to clamp down on imports in order to increase the country’s self-sufficiency and support its farmers.

The chief of the national committee of fruit and vegetable wholesale market representatives, Mohamed Medjber, criticised the high volume of imports coming into the country, according to a report in Echorouk Online.

He described a recent report by the trade ministry, which revealed that US$30m of vegetables and US$32m of fruit had been imported in January 2016, as “shocking”.

Imports of garlic, for example, reportedly reached nearly US$3m in one month. “Algerian garlic is available and of excellent quality,” said Medjber. “We sold it in January at AD75 (€0.60) per kilogram. So why does Algeria import Chinese garlic, which looks like plastic?”

Last month, Sharif Amari, adviser for the Algerian ministry of agriculture and rural development, told Akhbarelyoum of the need to reduce imports of citrus in order to develop the national sector and bolster the economy.

According to Amari, the country’s 66m ha of citrus production will need to be extended, with efforts focused on Blida, southwest of capital Algiers, a province that currently accounts for around 40 per cent of Algerian citrus production.