Algeria bans export of basic foods due to worries of shortages
Bread and wheat form major parts of diets in Algeria. /CFP Photo

Bread and wheat form major parts of diets in Algeria. /CFP Photo

Algeria has banned the export of foods that the country mainly imports amid a rising food crisis resulting from Russia's ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordered the ban at a Council of Ministers meeting on Sunday.

"On the joint proposal of the Ministers of Agriculture and Trade, the President of the Republic ordered to prevent the export of all consumer products imported by Algeria, such as sugar, pasta, oil, semolina, and all wheat derivatives, assigning the Minister of Justice to prepare a draft law criminalizing the export of materials, not produced locally, as an act disruptive to the national economy," a statement by the Presidency read in part.

The president went on to order efforts to encourage "the farmers who supply the state's strategic stock of hard and soft wheat, and dry grains, with various incentives, including support with loans, fertilizers and other benefits."

Algeria's actions come came as other countries took measures to safeguard their food reserves in response to the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine, which has aggravated a global surge in prices of key commodities, including food and oil.

Bread and other wheat-based products are staples of the diet in North African and Southwest Asian countries. In many of those countries, 30 percent or more of their wheat supply comes from Russia and Ukraine.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Russia is the world's largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is the fifth largest. Together, they provide 19 percent of the world's barley supply, 14 percent of wheat, and 4 percent of maize, making up more than one-third of global cereal exports.

The ongoing military operation by Russia has impeded exports, as bans affecting Russia mean the country no longer sells as much as it did before.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said last week food prices, already on the rise since the second half of 2020, reached an all-time high in February 2022 due to high demand, input and transportation costs, and port disruptions.

Dongyu noted that the likely disruptions to agricultural activities in Russia and Ukraine could seriously escalate food insecurity globally.

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