Maize and barley were added to the list of commodities on which the government could place a price cap following an official decree issued on Friday by Commerce and Energy Minister Natasa Pilides.

According to the latest entry on the Official Gazette, barley and maize’s wholesale and retail prices in Cyprus will not go over a certain amount, should the state deem it necessary.

The decree further explained that the decision was taken after noticing a sharp increase in the price of raw materials for animal feed and of cereals for human consumption, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Particularly difficult economic conditions are currently affecting the market, which therefore needs a containment of certain staple goods, in order to protect the consumers from excessive costs,” the decree, which is already in effect, said.

The list of commodities on which prices could be capped already include bread, milk, water, fuel and coffee.

Considerable preparatory work has been done on mechanisms to keep a lid on the price of grains, the commerce ministry said earlier on Friday as it moved to ease concerns among livestock farmers and consumers about an impending surge in prices.

In a written statement, the ministry, which is also responsible for consumer protection, said the main priorities were to protect consumers and help businesses survive.

The ministry said that in consultation with the agriculture ministry and the law office of the Republic, it was working on mechanisms to contain prices and minimize the risk of profiteering in the trading and supply of grains.

“The problem in the supply of grains is pan-European and is due to the ‘freezing’ in the dispatch of shipments from the two main suppliers for Europe, Russia and Ukraine, and as a result in the price increases that result,” the ministry said.

The ministry said it started working on mechanisms to contain prices immediately after cabinet’s decisions of February 15 which, due to the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, set the types of raw materials for animal feed and grains for human consumption and increased the period for which the quantities kept as strategic reserves cover the needs of the Republic of Cyprus.

“The primary concern of the ministry and the government is the protection of the consumer and the survival of businesses by limiting the consequences created worldwide because of the war in Ukraine,” it added.