Yemen seeks new funding and wheat suppliers to help tackle food crisis – Middle East Monitor
Yemen is looking for new wheat suppliers but will need help to pay for increasingly expensive imports, an official and top importer has said, as the World Food Program has warned of slashing food aid for millions of people already living on the brink of starvation, Reuters reports.
The disruption of global wheat supplies due to Russia’s war on Ukraine and a sudden ban on wheat exports by India are likely to deepen Yemen’s hunger crisis and drive up inflation for food prices which have already doubled in just two years in some parts of the country.
Ukraine and Russia are both major grain exporters and the dispute between them has pushed up world wheat prices. Yemen imports 90% of its food.
WFP Country Director in Yemen, Richard Ragan, said Reuters the number of people in the Arabian Peninsula country living in near-starvation conditions could reach seven million in the second half of 2022, up from around five million currently.
The UN body feeds 13 million people a month in Yemen, where the economy has been wrecked by years of war, but has since January cut rations for eight million of them. It may soon have to make further cuts, having raised just a quarter of the $2 billion it needs for Yemen this year from international donors.
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“We take food from the poor and feed the hungry,” Ragan said. “In June, we will have to make tough decisions about whether we can only feed five million people, those who are truly most at risk.”
Yemen’s cereal needs are around four million tonnes a year and “we come up with around 25% of that”, he said, adding that the WFP itself had seen an increase in the costs of food and fuel of about 25 to 30 million dollars per month.
Yemen has enough wheat for three months, trade minister says in Aden Reuters last week, adding that the ministry was pushing for a $174 million tranche of Saudi aid to be used to fund essential imports, including wheat.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia agreed to pay the last installment of an installment pledged in 2018.
“Government and importers are looking for alternative markets to import wheat, such as Brazil and others, to meet the 45% of wheat needs that came from Ukraine and Russia,” Trade Minister Mohammed said. Al-Ashwal.
The seven-year war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen, which largely controls northern Yemen, has caused severe currency devaluation and a shortage of reserves of exchange.