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Tunisian drought threatens farms and state finances

STORY: This is what's leading to a 'bread crisis' in Tunisia.

It's been three years since the country has had adequate rain.

The ongoing drought has emptied reservoirs, cracked the soil and led to water rationing.

“In the past, there were more severe years of drought compared to today, but the crisis was not like this, it hadn’t been this severe before. This year people are at risk of starvation.”

This farmer says he's only managed to save 20 hectares of the 150 he planted.

“All these ears will serve as fodder since they're empty due to the drought. We're in an irrigation area but haven't been provided with water - so all this is unusable."

Meanwhile, bakeries are running out of flour.

There are long lines outside some of them - while others have closed their doors.

Bakers are having to ration their bread in recent days, as they face shortages of imported goods too.

"My colleagues here down the road - there are three closed bakeries, they don’t have enough flour to work with. They ask me for a solution, how will I find a solution for them that I did not find for myself? Really we are very tired.”

The agriculture ministry says Tunisia must import 95% of its grains this year, with an outlook of harvesting only 250,000 tonnes of grain...a third of what was harvested last year.

Higher import costs come as the government faces a balance of payment crisis, and is seeking billions of dollars of support from the International Monetary Fund and bilateral donors.

President Kais Saied has blamed the country's economic problems on corruption in previous administrations.

He has demanded an end to the bread crisis, but hasn't addressed the wider supply and finance issues, calling the shortages the works of “criminal networks.”