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Tripolitania And Cyrenaica (Food Situation)

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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6 and 7.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) what total amount of tonnage of cereals will have to be imported into Tripolitania and Cyrenaica during the coming year; when it will be required; and from which countries it will be supplied; and (2), if he will make a statement regarding the effect on this year's harvest of the drought in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica; and what estimate has been made, expressed in percentage, of the probable loss of cereals.

The drought in these territories has unfortunately had a disastrous effect on the barley crop. In Tripolitania, the crop has been virtually a complete failure. In Cyrenaica, it is estimated that nearly half the crop has been lost. 63,300 tons of cereals will have to be imported into the territories during the coming year. Of this figure 13,200 tons represent normal wheat imports into Tripolitania, the balance being emergency imports into these territories in view of the crop failure. 17,900 tons are required as early as possible, 1,900 tons monthly from June to August inclusive, 5,400 tons monthly from September to March, 1948, inclusive, and 1,900 tons in April 1948. I cannot at present say where all the required cereals will be found. Arrangements are being made for barley to be supplied from Iraq. The requirements of wheat will be met from small stocks held by His Majesty's Government in the Middle East.

In view of the very serious nature of that statement, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind, when making every endeavour, as I know he will, to deal with this acute problem, the fact that this might be used as a means of anti-British propaganda if it fails to solve this very difficult question?