UPDATE 1-Sudan to purchase 200,000 T wheat in deal with world food programme

(Adds background and detail)

KHARTOUM, April 13 (Reuters) - Sudan’s government will purchase 200,000 tonnes of wheat in a deal with the United Nations’ world food programme, the finance ministry said on Monday, in a bid to bolster strategic reserves amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sudan, which faces an acute foreign currency shortage, will pay for the wheat in Sudanese pounds, saving more than $50 million for its reserves, the ministry said.

The government subsidises flour, paying 75% of the cost of each bag to millers, to allow bakers to fix the price of each loaf. Bakers, however, have complained and threatened to go on strike over rising operating costs and the steady weakening of the Sudanese pound.

Bread shortages, caused by difficulties in raising hard currency to import wheat, triggered mass protests which - with the help of the military - toppled former President Omar al-Bashir last year after three decades in power. (Reporting by Nadine Awadalla and Khalid Abdelaziz; Editing by Mark Potter)