Yemen faces wheat supply shock

STORY: Grocery shoppers in Yemen are watching events far from home drive up prices.

SANAA RESIDENT, HILAL NAJI, SAYING:

“The rise in food prices is global, the increase of the cost of wheat and other food is crazy – we did not expect this happening because of the crises and the war in Ukraine, these (events) really affect people.”

Yemen’s economy has been wrecked by years of war.

In some parts of the country, food price inflation has already doubled in two years.

Now, the war in Ukraine and a sudden wheat export ban by India could make a bad situation worse.

Yemen is searching for new wheat suppliers, but will need help to pay for increasingly costly imports, a government official and a main importer said.

The World Food Programme feeds 13 million people a month in the country, but has reduced rations for 8 million of them since January.

And with a shortfall from donors, those cuts may become deeper, according to country director Richard Ragan.

“For us this means we’re taking food from the poor and feeding the hungry. So we’re having to make some really tough decisions about who gets food in an environment where really everybody needs it.”

One of Yemen's largest food conglomerates, HSA Group, said while shipments have come into the country in recent months, there could be trouble ahead.

Mohammed Hayel Saeed is with the group, which also supplies aid agencies.

“The reality is that these shipments that reached in March and April are shipments that have been locked months before that, so that actual shock, we will start seeing the shock in the coming months.”

He has called for foreign help in the form of emergency mechanisms such as a special import finance fund and a standardized 60-day period for payment.

Last week, Yemen’s trade minister in Aden told Reuters that the country had enough wheat to least for three months.

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