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a gloomy and tense Ramadan all over the world

At nightfall, for breaking the fast, it is normally the time for big family meals, tables overflowing with tajines, meat puff pastries, honey pastries… But this year, the atmosphere is morose.

It is true that every year at the same time, prices soar. It is also true that the recovery from the Covid-related recession has accentuated this trend. But today wheat, oil, or corn imported from Ukraine or Russia are sometimes worth twice as much. The cost of maritime freight and fuel have also increased, inflation is general.

In the streets of Cairo, customers who bought three kilos of vegetables only take one. On the stalls of Casablanca, the fish is struggling to find takers. Even in Saudi Arabia, consumers are complaining; and everywhere, the most modest families are not able to absorb this price increase.

Some countries have also taken measures to limit this inflation by regulating the prices of basic necessities. In Egypt, the leading importer of Russian and Ukrainian wheat, where more than a third of the population already lives below the poverty line, the government has capped the price of bread. Already in February, the inflation rate reached 10% over one year – a record since mid-2019 – a phenomenon aggravated in recent weeks by the devaluation of the currency. The government had to set up food distributions at reduced prices.

Qatar goes even further. Every year, the emirate lowers prices during Ramadan. This year 800 products are concerned, there have never been so many. In addition to food, the list includes aluminum foil, washing powder and shower gels.

Protectionist policies that do not prevent social protest movements. Demonstrations are beginning to be organized here and there, as in Morocco, where inflation is aggravated by drought, the worst for 40 years. Devoid of hydrocarbons, the Cherifian kingdom has been hit hard by soaring fuel prices, which has led to a strike by road hauliers in recent weeks.

Not to mention that the war in Ukraine has revived the reflexes of fear. Consumers rushed to the shelves to stock up. In mid-March, the representative of Tunisian supermarkets assured that the sale of semolina had jumped 700%. Faced with shortages, some brands have had to ration purchases.

Last attempt to try to contain the food crisis, other countries such as Algeria or Côte d’Ivoire have chosen to ban exports of certain everyday consumer products.

France, supported by the G7, last week launched the “Farm” initiative with which the African Union is associated to prevent the risk of famine, considered almost inevitable within 12 to 18 months. Very concretely, it is a question of releasing the stocks of certain countries, of encouraging the richest to produce more in order to redistribute and of helping the most dependent to increase their production.

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