(Photo credit: Reuters)
The World Bank approved a loan of $150 million on 9 May to support Lebanon’s wheat imports and maintain stable bread prices for the next nine months, Lebanese Trade Minister Amin Salam told media.
The initiative, labeled the Lebanon Wheat Supply Emergency Response Project, is still awaiting approval by the Lebanese parliament, Salam said.
According to a World Bank spokesperson, the loan is meant to “finance immediate wheat imports to avoid the disruption in supply over the short term and help secure affordable bread for poor and vulnerable households including … refugees in Lebanon.”
Lebanon is heavily dependent on wheat imports that it pays for in US dollars, which have become highly difficult to secure since the collapse of the Lebanese financial sector.
The conflict in Ukraine has also exacerbated the country’s wheat shortage.
“Lebanon is one country likely to be hardest hit by the raging conflict … Lebanon’s Department of Economy and Commerce is striving to find alternative wheat supplies, including imports from the United States, India, and Argentina. But these places are geographically much further afield, and with the sharp recent increase in oil and shipping prices, the Central Bank dollars provided to import wheat will fall short of required quantities,” an investigative report by The Cradle stated.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has offered to provide Lebanon with wheat supplies to ease the crisis.
In its various offers to Lebanon, from food to fuel, Iran has stated it would gladly accept Lebanese liras instead of dollars and euros, which Lebanon is running out of, due to massive trade deficits from its import-dependent economy with negligible domestic industries.