All along the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a big rush on baking ingredients, and many started baking bread at home, the traditional way. That shows that our daily bread retains its essential role: that of providing sustenance, but also bonding as well as the satisfaction of the finished product. But now that post-lockdown Lebanon is going through an unprecedented economic crisis, the upcoming real shortage of flour is quite scary, despite Tweet by Economy Minister Raoul Nehme, just 3 days ago.
THE REALITY OF THE MATTER
Indeed, the Minister insisted that Lebanon had a large stock of wheat and flour, and should not fear a bread shortage crisis. Despite those declarations, queues were seen outside many bakeries, people buying large quantities of bread. Why the crisis, then ?
The fact is that bakers in Lebanon sell their bread in Lebanese pound, but pay in dollars to millers who must import wheat and flour from abroad. With the exchange rate to a dollars having reached over 8,000LBP, the Union of the Bakeries Syndicates announced that bread would stop being distributed until a solution is found to cut bakeries’ losses.
On top of it, mills stopped providing bakeries with flour, also fearing a loss with the new rates going on.
THERE IS A REASON FOR THE FEAR
Bread is the prime food of a majority of people who count on it to survive daily. As the currency crisis continues to spike, literally killing the purchasing power of the people, and that Lebanese have witnessed the smuggling of essential into Syria, fears are real.
Even though officials have repeatedly reassured the people that there won’t be a shortage, experts in Agriculture have mentioned that with what recently happened to wheat fields in Syria, wheat has turned into a highly rare and expensive commodity. Whatever the government decides to do, the truth is that basic commodities in Lebanon have become unaffordable to the masses.
And the smuggling operations to Syria of diesel oil and flour – two substances subsidized by the Lebanese state, are not making things better, and keep impacting Lebanese economy negatively.