By Loubna Falah
By Loubna Falah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, September 7, 2012
The Moroccan daily Al Massae disclosed facts about a letter sent by the National Office of Grains and Legumes to the Ukraine League for Grains through the Ukraine embassy in Morocco offering to buy 300, 000 tons of Ukraine’s grain reserves.
Ukraine’s grain reserves amounted to 17.1 million tons in April, according to figures released by Ukrainian government. Ukraine has enough reserves to satisfy its domestic demand and can, thus, become one of the major crop suppliers to many countries facing meager harvests.
Surprisingly, the minister of Agriculture and Fisheries had denied any attempt to acquire large quantities of wheat grains from the international market. Instead, the government declared earlier that it would not import grain wheat unless the national reserves are totally exhausted.
In the letter sent through the Ukrainian embassy on August 28th, the government makes a clear reference to a “Wheat shortage crisis.” Sources close to Al Masse confirmed that the government is mobilized to look for new prospective suppliers especially that the United States, one of the world’s largest crop producing states, refused to supply Morocco with the required quantity to alleviate the wheat crisis.
The letter published in Ukrainian government website states clearly that Morocco intends to purchase large quantities of wheat, corn and animal feeds from Ukraine Grains League.
A source close to the government inferred that the decision to exempt exporters from custom fees will not necessarily encourage crop producing states to sell part of their crop production as long as wheat prices are on the rise.
The only way out from this dead-end is to import from France, a long time business partner that had supplied Morocco with wheat for decades.
On the other hand, government officials asserted that bread prices will not change. The government intends to pay subsidies to keep bread prices steady and prevent popular outrage.
Earlier this month, professionals in the Moroccan milling industry, 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.
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.
Abashed from a potential mass panic, the government seems to be acting cautiously to sort out this crisis discreetly. Nevertheless, the expected hike in food prices in international markets heralds already the first tokens of forthcoming food crisis.
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