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Cameroon millers suspend flour deliveries due to high wheat prices

DOUALA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Cameroon's association of millers has suspended deliveries of flour and wheat bran throughout the country due to the rising price of wheat, it said in a statement.

The association represents 70% of the market for flour production in Cameroon, said the statement dated Tuesday.

"This measure taken reluctantly aims to limit the scope of losses that these companies have been recording for three months because of the uninterrupted and unprecedented increase in the price of wheat, their raw material, and insufficient measures from the public authorities to help them acquire it," it said.

Cameroon's minister of commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

International wheat prices climbed to their highest in almost a decade late last year after poor harvests in North America squeezed availability of milling-grade crop.

Wheat has contributed to a rise in global food prices to a 10-year high, according to the UN's food agency, which has warned that importing countries are facing a record food bill.

However, global wheat prices have fallen since last month. Southern hemisphere harvests have eased supply tensions while fears have waned about potential disruption to Black Sea exports due to a standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

Flour prices have risen so much since October that some bakers in Cameroon have stopped making bread, said Jean Claude Yiepmou Kapwa, president of the national bakers' syndicate.

The price of a 50 kg bag of flour is up to 22,000 CFA francs ($38.18) from 19,000 CFA francs ($32.97) in major cities Douala and Yaounde and even higher in other parts of the country, he said.

The bakers' syndicate in January said negotiations were underway with the authorities, millers and consumer rights' associations over prices. The millers' association said it would need an adjustment to selling prices to be able to buy wheat and make flour available again.

"The situation is not good and I have requested an audience with the Minister of Commerce," Yiepmou Kapwa told Reuters. ($1 = 576.2600 CFA francs) (Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris; Writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by David Evans)

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