BEIRUT (Zawya Dow Jones)–Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest barley importer, witnessed severe shortages of the grain in its northern region in the last few days which led to the emergence of a black market, pan-Arab Al Hayat daily reports Saturday citing local livestock farmers.
One bag of barley was sold at 55 Saudi riyals ($14.67) on the black market instead of the SAR40 price imposed by the government, Mamdouh Al Anzi, a cattle farmer, told Al Hayat.
Al Anzi attributed the crisis to the fact that barley traders in the region don’t have the capacity to provide sufficient supplies of the grain and warned that 5 million heads of cattle in the Arar area are in danger of disease and death because of the barley crisis, the paper reports.
The global quantities of barley allocated for exports this year are estimated at 17 million tons worldwide, with Saudi requiring nearly 7.5 million tons, the daily reports, adding that the kingdom consumed 3.5 million tons in the first five months of 2011.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which is the largest Arab economy, is mainly a desert land unfit for agriculture. A Saudi official said earlier this summer that his country will receive nearly 1.39 million tons of barley in August, and about 1.38 million tons in September.