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Global food shortage fears as Russia extends wheat ban

September 3, 2010

From The Telegraph

Vladimir Putin has announced Russia will not lift a ban on grain exports before next year’s harvest, extending the embargo for another year, sparking fears over a global food shortage.

The Russian prime minister said that it was “necessary to note that we will only be able to consider lifting the grain export ban after next year’s harvest … and we have clarity on the balances”.

His announcement came after deadly protests in Mozambique and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation calling an emergency meeting to discuss the shortages.

The export ban is aimed at keeping the Russian domestic market well supplied with grain after Russia, which the world’s third largest wheat exporter last year when it sold 21.4 million tonnes of grain, after the country suffered a record drought which destroyed a quarter of its harvest.

Forest and brush fires flared up again on Thursday, killing two people and burning down more than 160 houses and buildings. Mr Putin is keen to avoid any signs of social unrest ahead of elections due in 2012.

The export ban from such a key global exporter sent wheat prices to 231.5 euros a tonne, just short of last month’s two-year high of 236 euros, sparking worries of a crisis in global food supplies.

A rise in the price of state-controlled food, water and electricity prices have sparked protests in Mozambique where seven people have been killed and hundreds left injured after clashes with police. The price of a loaf of bread is due to rise by 25 per cent on September 6.

The Rome-based FAO said that their emergency meeting was called due to “an enormous number” of inquiries over concerns “about a possible repeat of the 2007-08 food crisis”

From The Telegraph

And another Link on the Subject from CNN: Fears grow over global food supply

 Russia announced a 12-month extension of its grain export ban on Thursday, raising fears about a return to the food shortages and riots of 2007-08 which spread through developing countries dependent on imports.

The announcement by Vladimir Putin came as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation called an emergency meeting to discuss the wheat shortage, and riots in Mozambique left seven dead.

The unrest in Maputo, in which 280 people were also injured, followed the government’s decision to raise bread prices by 30 per cent. Police opened fire on demonstrators after thousands turned out to protest against the price hikes, burning tyres and looting food warehouses.

Although agricultural officials and traders insist that wheat and other crop supplies are more abundant than in 2007-08, officials fear the deadly Mozambique riots could be replicated.

The 2007-08 food shortages, the most severe in 30 years, set off riots in countries from Bangladesh to Mexico, and helped to trigger the collapse of governments in Haiti and Madagascar.

The Russian announcement extended an export ban first announced last month until late December 2011, sending wheat and other cereals prices to near a two-year high.

From CNN

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