Lebanon seeks wheat import deals amid Ukraine crisis

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Lebanon has one month’s wheat reserves at most and seeks import agreements from various countries, Economy Minister Amin Salam told Reuters, amid supply fears in the market due to the Ukraine crisis.

The country, which imports nearly 60% of its wheat from Ukraine, is in talks with other countries including the United States, India, France and some other European countries to import wheat, Salam added.

“We don’t want to create a state of panic, we have positive indicators,” the minister said.

Lebanon’s main wheat silos were destroyed in the 2020 Beirut port explosion, since when the country has only had enough capacity to store a month’s supply.

The country seeks to reach wheat import agreements at affordable prices to secure reserves for up to two months, Salam said later in a press conference.

“A very important point is that we can take commitments from some countries and some companies at discounted prices. We can buy them and store them to be able to secure reserves of wheat for at least one or two months,” he added.

The government on Friday agreed the allocation of funds to buy 50,000 tonnes of wheat, said Abbas Halabi, the acting information minister, after a cabinet meeting.

This amount is sufficient for a month of consumption, Salam said after the meeting, adding that government will act quickly as early as Monday to secure the import deals before prices increase.

Earlier on Friday, Georges Berbari, the ministry’s general director of grains and sugar beets, told Reuters that Lebanon’s wheat reserves were enough for 1.5-2 months.

He said the government was seeking to focus production on Arabic loaves and away from luxury goods such as croissant and cakes to make the supplies last longer.

Two wheat shipments to Lebanon that were being loaded in Ukraine had been delayed due to the war, Berbari added.

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