By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, September 2, 2012
Professionals in the milling market as well as bakery owners warned against a potential shortage in wheat grains, which is liable to affect directly their ability to supply consumers with one of the most indispensable food staples: Bread.
According to the daily Al Massae, the bakery owners predict a potential inability to provide consumers with sufficient amount of bread in the forthcoming months.
Mr. Azaz the president of the National federation for Bakery owners expressed apprehension about the government’s ability to broker a deal with the largest crop producing states, especially since the United States , Morocco’s major wheat supplier, refused to supply Morocco with large quantities of crop.
Mr. Azaz confirmed that the federation is unlikely to issue a decision to increase bread prices as long as the government maintains steady prices for wheat grain. Professionals are rather skeptical about the way the government is responding to the crisis.
In fact, the government requested farmers to carry out a longer harvest. The government remained also reluctant to import more quantities until the national wheat reserves are totally exhausted. Sounding a pessimistic tone, Milling and baking professionals draw the parallel between the current impasse and the 80’s wheat crisis.
It is noteworthy that the largest crop producing states are expected to increase their reserves of wheat rather than exporting their production in order to secure crop supply for their domestic markets and to benefit more from the raise in crop prices in the global market.
France is also expected to decrease its wheat exports to Morocco. With the spike in wheat prices in the international markets, the Moroccan government is likely to increase the prices of flour and bread. Sources close to the government asserts that the Moroccan reserves of wheat will be exhausted in 45 days. The countdown has already begun.
Though the government is fully aware that this year’s harvest falls short from meeting the domestic market needs, it keeps sticking its head in the sand. The long and successive dry seasons are no secret. Therefore, the government should have an emergency plan to save the country from the odds of famine.
A meeting between bakery owners and milling professionals and Najib Boulf, minister of Governance and General Affairs, has already been scheduled. The professionals cherish the hope that the governments exempt them from back breaking expenses, since they have promised not to increase bread prices.
The contract signed between the government and the professionals in October 27, 2011 stipulates that they have the right to increase bread price in case the world food reach all-time peaks. On the other hand, the federation made the solemn pledge not to put the social peace in jeopardy. Nevertheless, Bakery owners made it clear that they cannot pay the price for wheat shortage.
The World Bank revealed that food prices leapt by 10%. It has addressed warnings to governments to put forward efficient policies to shelter the most vulnerable segments from soaring prices. The World Bank ascribed the jumping prices to drought in the United States and Eastern Europe.
The Midwest region in the United States was hit by drought resulting in a sharp decrease in crop production. Thus, the severe drought is expected to lead to a spike in food global prices for the season 2012/2013.
In this regard, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said “Food prices rose again sharply threatening the health and well-being of millions of people”. He added” Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable, but so are people in other countries where the prices have gone up abruptly”.
Though all indicators reveal a lurking global food crisis, the Moroccan government remains in a state of denial. No concrete measure susceptible to mitigate food prices hike and to ensure that the most underprivileged ones can still afford a food staple as essential as bread has been taken.