Yemenis panic buying wheat as prices soar amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

Government has ‘four months‘ of wheat reserves left

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Soaring prices of wheat and grain due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis are likely to worsen an already dire situation in Yemen, which imports 90 per cent of its wheat.

"People are now rushing to purchase, people are on alert, anticipating a crisis," wholesaler Mohammed Al Nimri in Yemen's capital Sanaa told Reuters. "They are taking, 10, 20 sacks."

On Wednesday, Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik said his government had enough wheat reserves to cover four months, but people were still panic buying.

"Some merchants have even raised prices after seeing the great demand," flour importer Mahran Al Qadi told Reuters.

Earlier this week, the World Food Programme (WFP) said fuel and food prices are likely to soar even further after having doubled in many areas across the country in the past year.

More than half the country is in need of food assistance, pushing Yemenis into a “vicious circle of hunger and dependence on humanitarian assistance”, the WFP said at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.

The seven-year conflict has raged on after the Houthi takeover of Sanaa in 2014 and the subsequent intervention of the Saudi-led coalition a year later.

But with dwindling aid supplies, the WFP said it has to control its existing stock, cutting rations for eight million out of the 13 million it feeds a month.

"We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving," WFP head David Beasley said.

It follows the price of maize and barley rising in Syria, as Russia's sanctions stoke fears among traders and importers. The wheat issue has also affected Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq.

Updated: March 03, 2022, 7:04 AM