Iran ready to supply wheat to Lebanon, says presidency

Cereal prices have soared since the start of the war in Ukraine, which is one of the world’s largest producers.

A baker produces fresh bread in Beirut, Lebanon on March 8, 2022.  Reuters

Iran is ready to supply wheat to cash-strapped Lebanon, the Lebanese presidency has said, days after bakers told The National that supplies were dwindling and there were no fresh imports coming.

President Michel Aoun tweeted that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian had assured him after their meeting in Beirut that Iran was ready to support Lebanon in all fields, “most notably in the provision of wheat".

Lebanon's wheat importers have not placed any new orders on the global market since Russia invaded Ukraine, a major wheat grower, a month ago and prices rose significantly.

The country relied on Ukraine for about 96 per cent of its wheat imports and with countries around the world rushing to secure new supplies, importers said there was little appetite in selling to impoverished Lebanon. There were industry reports that issues at the central bank were also slowing down payments, making it harder to strike agreements.

Although the Lebanese pound is officially pegged at 1,507 against the US dollar, the country's financial crisis has seen banks limit withdrawals and international payments and a black market has emerged, selling dollars at more than 20,000 pounds.

Bakers said that wheat importers were already rationing supplies to supermarkets amid widespread panic-buying.

Iran has close ties to Lebanon, most notably through its support for Hezbollah, the political party and militia.

The country's financial crisis has caused savings to evaporate, pushed the price of staples out of reach and forced half of its people into poverty.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 1:20 PM
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