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Jan 22 (Reuters) - Algeria’s soft and durum wheat imports rose 41.5 percent to a record 7.42 million tonnes in 2011, customs data showed on Sunday, as the country boosts stocks.
The data showed energy exports earned the OPEC member nation $71.24 billion last Year, a 28.3 percent rise from $55.52 in the previous year.
As a result, the country’s trade surplus increased 62.5 percent to $26.9 billion from $17.6 billion, despite a rise in imports.
The volume of Soft wheat imports was up 39.23 percent to 5.55 million tonnes from 3.98 million tonnes, durum wheat purchases rose 48 percent to 1.85 million tonnes from 1.24 million tonnes.
France led Algeria’s suppliers of soft and durum wheat with 4.53 million and 1.096 million tonnes respectively.
Soft and durum wheat imports for 2011 were the highest since Algeria won independence from France in 1962, according to figures from the United Nations food agency.
Algeria at the start of this year decided to speed up wheat imports to boost stocks in the wake of rioting in January, sparked by food prices rises.
The government is wary that any food unrest could escalate into the kind of nationwide revolt which ousted entrenched leaders of its neighbours Tunisia and Libya.
Algeria’s domestic cereal harvest fell again in 2011 to 4.2 million tonnes, with agriculture ministry officials blaming poor weather conditions.
The harvest in 2010 had been 4.56 million tonnes. That was down from the previous year’s record of 6.1 million tonnes but still in line with the average over the past few years.
The value of Algeria’s total imports in 2011 rose 14.8 percent to $46.45 billion, while exports valued $73.40 billion, a 28.6 percent rise from $57.05 billion in 2010.
The value of oil and gas sales abroad accounted for 97 percent of total exports. (Reporting By Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)