Algeria‘s spending on cereal, semolina and flour imports rose 5.1 percent in the first half of 2017 from a year earlier, official figures showed on Tuesday, despite government restrictions aimed at easing pressure on state finances.

Algeria is one of the world’s largest grain imports, but the government has been trying to reduce purchases in a bid to cope with a sharp fall in revenues since crude oil prices started declining in mid-2014.

The imports bill for durum wheat, soft wheat, semolina and flour reached $1.47 billion in the first six months of 2017, up from $1.39 billion in the same period last year, according to customs figures.

It gave no figures on volumes.

Algeria’s cereal crop dropped to 3.3 million tonnes in 2016 from 4 million tonnes the previous year. The government has yet to announce the output level for this year.

Overall bill for food imports rose to $4.44 billion in the January-June period of 2017 from $4.05 billion a year earlier.

Milk imports rose 54.2 percent, while purchases of meat and dried vegetables were up 12.2 percent and 8.35 percent respectively, the customs data showed.

by Hamid Ould Ahmed