NEW DELHI: The Ukraine crisis is forcing international wheat purchasers to look at India, with Lebanon being the latest. The Mediterranean nation, which was largely dependent on Ukraine for wheat imports, has been struggling to procure the food grain since the outbreak of the conflict. It is facing a food security crisis at present. The government of Lebanon is in the process of finalising the procurement of 50,000 tonnes of wheat from India, which will last them one month.
“Traditionally wheat imports were in the hands of the private sector in Lebanon. However, the government has now decided to purchase it on its own. We have shared all the relevant information that they needed from our end as we are in a position to provide wheat (as there is stock),” Indian Ambassador to Lebanon, Dr Suhel Ajaz Khan told this newspaper.
However, Lebanon has been reeling under an acute economic crisis since 2019 and paying for the wheat will be a challenge for them. Nearly 75 per cent of the population is living below poverty line and buying even a loaf of bread is becoming increasingly difficult for them. The Lebanon government has been subsidising the cost of wheat.
Due to the economic crisis, Lebanon’s 12 major wheat importers haven’t placed any new orders globally. “The kind of soft wheat that we produce in India matches Lebanon’s requirement. Once they finalise it from their end, we will facilitate them to take it forward,” Dr Khan added.
Lebanon’s Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, had earlier said they were in the process of finalising wheat import from India and were also hopeful of having more collaborations. “India is our friend. The Indian Ambassador in Beirut has addressed all our queries regarding wheat and we are also hoping to fortify our ties in technology and agriculture,” he had said.