Mauritania: Wheat Is the 2nd Most Imported Product
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In the past five years, Mauritania’s imports of Grains covered up to 80 percent of the national consumption requirements, with about 50 percent of Wheat imports coming from the Black Sea Region, mainly Ukraine. This high Grain import dependency makes the country highly vulnerable to the supply shock associated with the war in Ukraine.
In the 2021/22 marketing year (November/October), Grain import requirements were estimated at 520,000 tons, near the previous year’s level and about 18 percent below the five-year average. This includes 405,000 tons of Wheat and Wheat flour. The estimated slowdown of imports is due to high international prices of Grains and bottlenecks in the global supply chain. Between November 2021 and August 2022, the country imported about 155,000 tons of Wheat, about one-third of the annual requirements, primarily reflecting the interruption of shipments from the ports in the Black Sea Region. At this pace, it is unlikely that the country will be able to meet its import requirements in 2021/22, leading to a significant deficit of Wheat and Wheat flour in domestic markets, with a likely drop in its per capita consumption.
Domestic prices of imported Wheat flour, the country’s main staple, strengthened in the first half of 2022, reflecting increasing trends in international markets and the low level of imports. As of June 2022, prices of imported Wheat flour were about 60 percent above their previous year’s levels. Prices of imported rice increased in 2022, but to a lesser extent, and were about 10 percent higher on a yearly basis in June 2022.
According to the March 2022 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, the aggregate number of people facing acute food insecurity between June and August 2022 was estimated at 880,000. This is the highest number on record and well above the 485,000 people estimated to be acute food insecure during the same period in 2021. The sharp increase in critical food insecurity levels reflects below-average market supplies and high food prices stemming from the drought-reduced Grain output in 2021 and increasing imported food prices. In addition, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of August 2022, over 90,000 refugees, mainly from northern Mali, were present in the country.
Most of the refugees are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance following the severe disruption of their livelihoods. In order to support the acute food insecure households during the lean season, between June and September, the country implemented a national response plan that includes the free distribution of Wheat, local rice, oil, sugar, condensed milk, and dates, in addition to a monthly cash transfer of MRO 450 (about USD12) per capita for a period of four months. The plan targets all estimated acute food-insecure persons.
Despite the near-average 2022 Grain production, acute food insecurity is expected to remain high during the second half of the year as the country is particularly vulnerable to the unfolding effects of the war in Ukraine on international trade and commodity prices due to its high import dependency. In addition, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), flash floods have affected, as of September 2022, about 40,000 people.
Wheat Trade in Mauritania
As per AgFlow data, Brazil exported 0.1 million tons of Wheat to Mauritania in Q1 2023, followed by France (64,060 tons), Romania (33,000 tons), and Mexico (27,087 tons). In 2021, Mauritania imported Wheat worth $172 million, becoming the world’s 63rd most significant importer of Wheat. In the same year, Wheat was the 2nd most imported product in Mauritania. Mauritania imports Wheat primarily from: Ukraine ($52.5 million), Argentina ($37.3 million), Spain ($18.1 million), Latvia ($17 million), and France ($14.8 million).
Other sources: FAO
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