Wheat price remains high [Archives:2009/1226/Local News]

January 19 2009

Mahmoud Assamiee
and Salah Al-Worafi

SANA'A, Jan. 18 ) Although the price of wheat has dropped almost 60 percent on the international level since early 2008, Yemeni importers and wholesalers are creating price hikes to increase their profits, say retailers.

Last week, the price of wheat witnessed an unjustified increase. In two weeks, the price of a 50-kilo sack of wheat has increased from YR 4,200 to almost YR 6,000, four times its price in 2007. People accuse the government of carelessness and of not taking strict measures against powerful merchants who play with the price of this important commodity. Whereas four decades ago Yemen produced enough wheat to feed itself, the country now depends on imports for 90 percent of the wheat it consumes. In remote villages, the high price of food has led families to regularly skip meals and spend over two-thirds of their income on food, forcing some to pull children out of school because they cannot afford it, according to a recent assessment by the World Food Program.

Economist Mustafa Nasr, director of the Center for Studies and Economic Media Center, explains that wheat prices have decreased globally because of both the decrease of the price of oil and the great production of wheat after the global food crisis in 2008.

“What is going on in Yemen is that importers do not release high quantities of wheat onto the markets