hunger “inevitable”. This is what will cause, if nothing changes, a war in Ukraine in 12-18 months, according to Emmanuel Macron. Following the results of the NATO and G7 summits on Thursday, March 24, the Head of State called on Russia “responsible”which allows sowing in Ukraine.
With the blockade or capture of ports by the Russian army, the country can no longer export its grain products. For Moscow, international sanctions could also disrupt exports. However, two countries are among the world’s main suppliers of wheat, corn, barley, rapeseed and sunflower. As a result, prices are skyrocketing, and food shortages are growing in densely populated countries that are heavily dependent on grain imports. Franceinfo conducts the first inventory.
Egypt regulates bread prices
Egypt is the most important destination for Russian and Ukrainian wheat, reminds AFP. Thus, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, 85% of imported wheat comes from two countries (62% from Russia and 23% from Ukraine). Bread consumption per capita reaches 130 kg per year, which is significantly higher than the world average. More than 102 million Egyptians, a third of whom live below the poverty line, are bearing the brunt of skyrocketing prices for cereals and, consequently, for bread.
Days before the start of Ramadan, a period associated with household spending on food, Cairo decided for the first time to adjust the price of unsubsidized bread. The government also announced that it had increased its wheat budget by 865 million euros, in addition to more than five billion euros in subsidies for basic foodstuffs.
In turn, the Prime Minister urged traders “don’t take advantage of the situation”urging the Egyptians to “to be reasonable in their consumption, so as not to force [l’Etat] the need to enter global markets” where prices rise. Egypt also announced that it would suspend the export of its wheat and flour for three months. “which will hit other countries, especially Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen,” predicts the European non-governmental organization Transport and Environment together with AFP.
Tunisia claims it has a three-month supply of wheat
Food prices are also rising in Tunisia. The residents are worried. Shelves with flour and semolina are being stormed. Half of the wheat consumed in the country is imported. He hails mainly from Ukraine and Russia. However, the government guarantees stocks for three months.
The country has been facing shortages of many staples such as rice, semolina, sugar and flour for weeks now. This was stated by the President of Tunisia Kais Syed. “war” to speculators. The government heavily subsidizes staples such as coffee, sugar, pasta or semolina. The price of a baguette has not changed for 10 years (6 cents).
On the verge of financial suffocation and experiencing serious economic difficulties, the government has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund since February. The latter could require the end of some subsidies, a decision that would hit household budgets hard.
Algeria bans the export of semolina
Algeria is the state of the Maghreb, which annually buys the most wheat from abroad. Russia and Ukraine are among the countries supplying it in recent months. Faced with geopolitical uncertainty, the Algerian government decided to anticipate a possible shortage by banning the export of semolina, pasta and other wheat-derived consumer products in order to conserve its stocks.
However, the Algerian state has an ace up its sleeve: it exports oil and takes advantage of rising world prices. Therefore, Algeria “able to buy wheat even if prices rise”says Sebastien Abis, Research Fellow, Institute of International and Strategic Relations, with France 24.
Morocco fears popular uprising
Morocco imported more than 4.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2021, according to statistics aggregator IndexMundi. (Content in English), which is based on USDA data. Russia and Ukraine are again among the suppliers. Morocco has enough wheat stocks to cover five months of consumption, having received most of its orders from Ukraine before the conflict, the head of the national milling federation assures in an interview with Moroccan media The reporter.
However, the government says it is ready to import grain from the European Union or any other region of the world, according to the National TV and Radio Company. The country is facing a severe drought, its economy is dependent on the agricultural sector, and it is not immune to a popular uprising. “All conditions are met for the emergence of real popular discontent, which would then pose a real threat to social stability”said the daily Akhbar Al Youm (article in Arabic)2nd of March.
Sudan faces food crisis
In one of the world’s poorest countries, the consequences of the war in Ukraine could plunge the population into an acute food crisis. By the end of the year, “20 million people will be food insecure” out of 45 million Sudanese, David Wright of the NGO Save the Children assures AFP.
On the one hand, since “86-87% of the country’s wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine.” On the other hand, because Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine sent world prices skyrocketing above the record levels of 2008, which has already led to food riots, explains David Wright.
The price of bread has already risen tenfold since the October military coup that deprived the country of any international political or economic support. Washington, which sent 300,000 tons of wheat in 2021, will not deliver the promised 400,000 tons in 2022. According to the UN, every third Sudanese needs humanitarian assistance.
Prices in Libya are rising
Food imports are vital to Libya: 75% of its wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, prices for flour, milk, butter, canned food and sugar have skyrocketed.
Libya’s Economy and Trade Minister assured in late February that wheat stocks should last more than a year, according to a recent note by Bersi. The authorities also cracked down on sellers who raised flour prices.
There is no “deficit” in Lebanon, but…
“Lebanon’s food is 50% dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat”, emphasizes Christian Lambert, President of the first organization representing the interests of farmers in Europe, Copa-Cogeca, AFP. The Lebanese Economy Minister assured in early March that“there [avait] no shortage” and that the quantities stored were “sufficient” for a period of“one and a half to two months”informed East Day.
The Lebanese daily newspaper also recalled the emergency measures taken by the government, including the framework for the supply of flour.
Bread prices rise in Turkey
According to Murat Kapiran, President of the Istanbul Chamber of Agricultural Engineers, Turkish wheat production “barely covers 80% needs” countries against “107% four years ago”. “We have become dependent on Russia and Ukraine. And now the crisis is getting worse.”he predicts.
The price of bread has worried the Turks for several months, even before the war in Ukraine. The price of flour increased by 85% between April and November 2021, according to the bakers’ union, prompting many bakeries to raise their prices. In addition, Turkish inflation jumped to more than 48% in January, the highest level since 2002.