"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Monday, January 07, 2008

Afghanistan - supply problems with wheat flour and cooking oil - opium ? No problems.

There is a an even more acute shortage of wheat flour in Afghanistan this winter. Reports from locals, say an 85 kilogram sack of flour, which was available for nearly 1,000 afghanis (1 US$=50 Afghanis ...ish ) in Kabul three months ago, costs up to 1,700 afghanis due to the recent crisis in Pakistan

The price of the same quantity of flour is nearly 2,500 Afghanis in the remote and war-affected areas like Helmand, Zabul, and Uruzgan - if available.

South , SE. and Eastern provinces and the central capital Kabul are mainly dependent on food import from Pakistan via the border towns of Peshawar and Quetta.

Due to disruptions in supply in Pakistan and a border clamp down on smuggling, prices of daily commodities, especially wheat flour and cooking oil have suddenly jumped.

This reflects the problems at the same time last year when millers were exporting huge quantities to Afghanistan leading to shortages in Pakistan.

Mohammad Amin Farhang, Afghanistan's Minister for Commerce, has sought help from the international community to avoid any food shortage in the country, especially its remote areas.

Apart from opium poppies Afghanistan is popular for its fresh and dry fruits, but the landlocked the country grows only a little wheat and the rural population depends on rice and wheat flour. Both imported from Pakistan or other neighbouring countries.Altthpugh wheat prices are at record highs the main propblems are of suply as available land routes to districts and villages in provinces like Badakhshan, Ghor, Panjshir, Kunar, Nuristan and some war-affected areas in the southern and southeastern zones are now blocked by snow.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that mounting attacks on food convoys by Taliban were affecting smooth and timely supply of food items, warm clothes and medicines to the remote areas in Afghanistan.

So different to 2002 when Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) that organised the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), CARE, and Deutsche Post World Net delivered.

The NDFU raised more than US$150,000 to buy 1000 metric tons of wheat, which was milled and fortified for shipment to Afghanistan. Deutsche Post World Net donated the services of its logistics Business Unit, Danzas, which transported the 53-truckloads of flour from North Dakota to Karachi, Pakistan. CARE arranged to deliver the wheat to Kabul and handled the distribution. The Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives donated the costs of milling the wheat into flour.

The flour was distrubuted wto widows and children in 100lb lots , "These are families at the edge of starvation. The generosity and ingenuity of the partners in this effort will help these women and children survive, and allow children to return to school," noted Senator Conrad at the time.

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