Burkina Faso’s bakeries shut down over soaring wheat prices

Faced with wheat supply disruption due to Russia-Ukraine war, bakers go on strike as gov't refuses to raise bread prices

James Tasamba   | 26.05.2022
Burkina Faso’s bakeries shut down over soaring wheat prices

KIGALI, Rwanda 

Bakers in Burkina Faso downed their shutters nationwide on Thursday in protest over the government’s refusal to let them increase the price of bread to match the rising wheat prices.

The strike came after weeks of discussions between the umbrella federation of owners of bakeries, pastries and confectioneries and the Trade Ministry over soaring wheat prices compounded by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat in Africa, but since the war erupted in February, supply chains were interrupted, triggering unprecedented price hikes.

Africa faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries, according to the African Development Bank ((AfDB).

In a statement, the federation accused the authorities of violently closing down some bakeries in the capital Ouagadougou, which had raised the price of bread from 150 FCFA ($0.22) to 200 FCFA ($0.32) against the government's directive not to increase prices.

Nina Sori, secretary-general of the federation, said they had no other option but to stop work. “We are between a rock and a hard place. Upstream, the price of raw materials continues to soar and downstream we have a decree that sets the price of bread at 150 francs. We either increase the prices or we close shop,” she said.

“While we are told not to increase the price of bread, the price of flour is skyrocketing. At the local mill, the price per ton has risen to 505,000 francs (about $822) from 350,000 francs (about $569). It is unsustainable."

The Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted wheat exports, pushing prices up by 60% in Africa, said the AfDB, which has approved $1.5 billion to help the continent tackle food crisis.

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