The Moldovan government imposed a ban on the export of wheat on Wednesday in response to what Prime Minister Vladimir Filat said was a need to prevent a shortage of grain in the country.

A panic has started in society. Bread prices are expected to soar, he told a cabinet meeting.

Moldovan experts forecast a 15-45% rise in the price of bread in the near future.

Agriculture Minister Vasily Bumakov said in late January bread price rises were inevitable given the rise in energy and fuel costs, as well as excessive wheat exports.

He said wheat exports in the past six months had almost trebled, year on year.