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Heatflation in the Middle East is affecting food prices

In Iraq, the daily consumption of tomatoes makes the population sensitive to price fluctuations. Kholoud Salman, an Iraqi journalist, reported a significant increase in tomato prices, which sparked widespread complaints on social media platforms. Local markets see frequent changes in food prices, influenced by weather conditions and crop yields. Smallholder farms, lacking modern refrigeration or processing facilities, are particularly vulnerable to these changes. Iraqi economist Mohammad al-Fakhri highlighted the impact of war on the country's agricultural modernization efforts.

Similar issues affect other Middle Eastern countries, with climate change playing a significant role in food price volatility. In Egypt, a surge in onion prices was attributed to both trader manipulation and a heat-induced reduction in harvests. Morocco faced challenges with tomato production due to unexpected frost after an early spring, leading to government intervention in export policies. These incidents are examples of "heatflation," a term used by the World Economic Forum to describe the rise in food prices due to extreme heat.

Research by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the European Central Bank predicts that climate change could increase food prices annually by 1% to 3% by 2035, and by up to 4.3% by 2060, with the most significant impacts expected in already hot regions like the Middle East, Africa, and South America. The phenomenon of heatflation is expected to exacerbate food insecurity and contribute to social unrest in vulnerable communities.

Addressing heatflation requires acknowledging its impact on low-income households and investing in climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience within the agricultural sector. Ulrich Volz from the University of London emphasizes the importance of regional efforts in combating climate change and developing suitable adaptation strategies to mitigate future price increases.


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