The high cost of wheat and fuel.. Hunger knocks on the doors of Mauritania
A mauritan man with his women (Illustrations)

The negative economic and living consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war have reached the Mauritanian station, which is witnessing an accelerating rise in the prices of fuel derivatives, wheat and other commodities.

And Mauritania imports 60 percent of its food needs from abroad, and the poverty rate is 31 percent.

Fuel prices are witnessing successive increases after increases in the price of a barrel, from an average of $80 before the Russian military operations, to $139, before settling at $107 now.

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Hunger rate

Sobhi Ould Wedadi, an economist and head of the Mauritanian Center for Strategic Studies and Research, expected that rising food prices globally would contribute to an increase in hunger rates in the West African country of 4 million people.

Ould Weddady pointed out, in a statement to The Eastern Herald, that 600,000 people suffer from hunger in Mauritania, and one out of every 5 children suffers from malnutrition.

He added, “In light of the weak state of the country’s self-sufficiency in grain and food, Mauritania may witness an increase in hunger rates, especially since we have not yet emerged from the repercussions of the Corona crisis, and the poverty rate in the country reaches 31 percent.”

He continued, “All food products in the country are imported except for fish, meat and rice, while the volume of food imports in the country is estimated at 60 percent of the food needs.”

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In turn, Khalil Ould Khairy, head of the (non-governmental) Mauritanian Consumer Forum, stressed that the fuel crisis and the rise in global prices will have major repercussions on Mauritania, noting that the latter was importing wheat mainly from Russia and Ukraine.

Ould Khairy said in a statement to The Eastern Herald, that many bakeries in Mauritania have already begun to lose bread weight, and the prices of this substance in the Mauritanian markets have risen despite the government’s warning against changing the price before the stock that was in the country runs out.

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He pointed out that Mauritania is going through difficult conditions as a result of the drought that is affecting large parts of the country, which makes the repercussions of the global food price rise crisis be great for this country.

Inflated markets

Economist Sobhi Ould Wedadi predicted that the global fuel crisis and the rise in food prices would cause a massive wave of inflation in the Mauritanian markets.

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He explained, “Importing fuels represents 30 percent of Mauritanian imports, and the price of a ton of wheat rose in the country at once by about $60, so I expect a major inflation wave in the market.”

Government Measures

The Mauritanian government, through its spokesman, El Mokhtar Ould Dahi, expected an increase in wheat prices in Mauritania due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, given that the two countries are considered among the largest wheat exporters.

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Ould Dahi said in a press conference on March 2, that the government had begun to establish a committee to take the necessary measures, noting that the president had given directions in this regard.

He pointed out that the quantity now available in the markets was purchased before the outbreak of the war, pointing out that some traders have tried to exploit the crisis and raise wheat prices since the early days of the war.

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He added, “In the event that new quantities of wheat enter the Mauritanian market, the Ministry of Trade will hold a session with traders to restructure the new price, indicating that the government will bear what it can bear from the burdens of the new price on the homeland.”

On March 7, the authorities announced the arrival of a shipment of 25,000 tons of wheat that arrived at the port of Nouakchott, as part of a government plan to import 100,000 tons of wheat, earmarked for the state’s social programs.

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