(Bloomberg) -- Jordan has become the latest Middle Eastern country to strengthen food security as the coronavirus pandemic upends supply chains and causes soft commodity prices to rise.
The kingdom has increased wheat reserves to a record 1.35 million tons, enough to meet its needs for 17 months, and wants to grow them further, according a spokesman of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
“Jordan is working on boosting its strategic reserve to ensure food safety amid uncertainties in light of coronavirus,” Yanal Barmawi said by phone.
As food supplies tighten, causing a global hunger crisis, nations across the Middle East are trying to improve access to grains and other crops. Saudi Arabia is investing in local agriculture and farming projects abroad, while Egypt is paying more for domestic wheat to encourage its farmers.
The United Arab Emirates, which imports as much as 90% of its food, has bought thousands of diary cows from Uruguay and is trying to grow rice for the first time in a major way. It’s also in talks to buy a stake in Louis Dreyfus Co., one of the world’s biggest agricultural traders.
Jordan depends on wheat imports mainly from the Black Sea region. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the country to harvest 25,000 tons in the 2020-21 marketing year, about the same as the previous year. That’s a fraction of local consumption, which is around 879,000 tons.
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