The rise in global food prices will have repercussions on the Middle East where high prices and deteriorating living conditions sparked the Arab Spring revolutions, reports The New Arab’s Arabic language service.
Earlier this month world food prices jumped 28 per cent, their highest level since 2011, with no prediction for more stable prices this year according to the UN’s food agency. This in turn has led to a surge in inflation.
Political tension, coronavirus, extreme weather conditions, disruptions to supplies, high commodity prices and factory closures are all responsible for pushing prices up.
The pandemic has left large sectors without staff, including lorry drivers, port operators, and warehouse staff.
According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, in December Egypt recorded an annual inflation rate of 6.5 per cent, a result of the rising cost of education, food and drinks.
The government has increased fees for state-run schools whilst the price of water, electricity, gas, and fuel have also gone up.
At the same time the government has raised the price of various subsidised food and stopped issuing ration cards for newlyweds.
In Egypt, one third of the population live below the poverty line whilst 60 per cent are poor or threatened with poverty.
Other countries in the region, including Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon, and Tunisia are also expected to suffer because they import sugar and wheat, combined with the fact that they are experiencing political turmoil, war and economic collapse, according to Alaraby’s report.
Late last year the price of cereal, sugar and vegetable oil had increased by one third compared to the year before.
The Middle East, especially Yemen and Syria, is already one of the most food insecure regions in the world. Many people in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria live off food subsidies and there are water shortages in Palestine and Jordan.