Egypt’s local wheat buying surges in first two weeks of harvest


Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, has so far bought 1.4 million tonnes of the grain from farmers in its harvest, Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said, procuring more than a third of its target in the first two weeks.

The government has said it is looking to buy about 4 million tonnes of wheat from farmers this harvest, which ends in July.

Egypt expects to buy an additional 7 million tonnes of the grain from abroad during the 2018-19 financial year that begins in July. It uses the wheat to supply a sprawling bread subsidy system relied on by tens of millions of people.

In a statement, Moselhy said the 1.4 million tonnes procured so far compared to just 200,000 tonnes purchased in the same initial period last year.

“The rate of procurement this year is much higher because of weather conditions, which led to an earlier harvest compared to the same period last year,” Moselhy said.

Egypt has tied its local wheat buying price to international prices for the second year in a row, upsetting some farmers who said the buying price was too low to justify growing the crop.

In recent years a higher subsidised local procurement price led traders to smuggle in cheaper foreign wheat and sell it to the government, draining millions of dollars from the state budget.

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