Lebanon prioritises bread production as Ukraine crisis threatens grain supplies

Lebanon prioritises bread production as Ukraine crisis threatens grain supplies
In the grip of its own snowballing crises, Lebanon’s food supplies are increasingly threatened by war in Ukraine hitting grain imports
2 min read
06 March, 2022
A protracted conflict in Ukraine could have perilous consequences for food security across the Middle East [Getty]

Lebanon has announced rationing measures that limit grain usage to maintaining bread supplies going in the country, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to affect food supplies across the Middle East

"We will only be using wheat for the production of bread until we can ensure alternative sources of grain imports from Canada and others," Minister for Industry George Bouchkian tweeted on Saturday.

On Friday, Prime Minister Najib Mekati called for "stringent measures to ensure that Lebanon does not fall into a food crisis", during a parliamentary session. 

The Lebanese Miller’s Union announced their agreement with the government position, attempting to ringfence the supply of Arabic bread, a staple of the Lebanese diet. 

"These measures are there to ensure that we can keep producing for as long as possible, until we can secure further wheat supplies," they added in a statement. 

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Minister of Economy Amin Salim has warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to cause long-term disruption to food supply chains. 

According to Salim, "between 50% and 60% of [Lebanon's] wheat imports come from either Ukraine or Russia," - amounting to between 40 and 50 thousand tons per year, distributed between 12 mills across Lebanon. 

However, the minister urged against panic buying, claiming that Lebanon has enough grain reserves to last 45 days, should supplies be interrupted. 

In normal times, Ukraine is one of the world’s major exporters of grains such as corn, rye, barley, and most importantly wheat.

Last year, the eastern European nation shipped nearly 20 million tonnes of wheat, making it one of the top exporters globally.

Other countries across the Middle East have implemented grain rationing measures, fearing a long road ahead for the Ukraine conflict that could greatly impact their ability to import the food they need.