WFP buying wheat from Ethiopia in foreign currency to feed needy citizens: Ethiopia Minister

The Ethiopia Government Communication Service Minister, Legesse Tulu, said on Friday evening the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) are buying wheat from Ethiopia in foreign currency to feed citizens who are suffering from food shortages.

In a Facebook post, Legesse said, the WFP is currently buying 35,000 metric tons of wheat domestically that will be made available to drought affected parts of the east African country. 

Legesse further said the World Bank has also bought 127,000 metric tons of wheat from Ethiopia Cooperative Unions in U.S. dollars and made it available for similar purposes to other parts of the country. 

The Minister also praised what he called Ethiopia’s “historic first achievement” as a wheat exporting nation. 

The Minister’s optimism wasn’t shared by many Ethiopian citizens who have commented on his social media Post expressing outrage over the government’s apparent foreign currency earning scheme from a humanitarian crisis affecting tens of millions of Ethiopians. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Tuesday appealed for 3.99 billion U.S. dollars to help more than 20 million people across Ethiopia.

Sources with insider information in the WFP who wished to remain anonymous told earlier this week, the Ethiopian government is pressuring humanitarian agencies to buy wheat from “government sanctioned cooperatives” in U.S. dollars.

The “cooperatives” buy the wheat from farmers who are being forced to sell the crops at a government sanctioned prices reportedly of around 60 U.S. dollars, roughly only half the price of what many farmers say is enough to sustain their livelihoods. 

The Ethiopian government has reportedly compelled wheat farmers in Oromia and Amhara region to sell wheat products at a set price of 3,200 birr (around 59.3 U.S. dollars) and 3,350 birr (around 62 U.S. dollars) respectively.

However, this strategy has instead boosted contraband wheat trade, hoarding of wheat crops and ballooning of domestic wheat prices.

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