Beirut grain silo destroyed, Lebanon's needs covered for less than a month: Minister

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The grain silo at Beirut’s port was destroyed in Tuesday’s blast that rocked the capital city, Lebanon’s minister of economy told Reuters on Wednesday.

The country has enough inventory, together with vessels on the way, to cover its needs, Raoul Nehme told Reuters.

Local outlet MTV reported Nehme as saying the country had enough reserves for less than a month. The country is already in a precarious food security situation as inflation has seen the cost of goods skyrocket, and importers have struggled to secure enough dollars in the cash-strapped country to pay for their imports. The country is dependent on imports to satisfy around 85 percent of its food needs.

The Beirut silo was capable of holding 120,000 tonnes of grain, said Ahmed Tamer, the director of the port of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second biggest city.

The port in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second biggest port, is not equipped with grain storage facilities but wheat could be transferred to warehouses 2 km (about one mile) away, he said.

At the time of the blast, the Beirut silo held no more than 15,000 tonnes of wheat as some millers had unloaded cargoes directly because of a delay in issuing letters of credit for payment, Ahmed Hattit, the head of the wheat importers union, told the local Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Hattit said existing reserves of flour were sufficient to cover market needs for a month and a half and said there were four ships carrying cargoes totaling 28,000 tonnes of wheat that had not docked at the port yet.

-With Reuters

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