Egypt's state wheat purchases surge after private sector crackdown


An Egyptian farmer holds a handful of freshly harvested wheat grains during the launch of the Government's local wheat harvest at a field in Beni Suef, south of Cairo, Egypt April 24, 2017.

State grain purchases have surged this year in Egypt, Reuters-compiled data showed, partly driven by government efforts to fill a gap left by a shrinking private sector hit by a crackdown on fraud and smuggling.

Government purchases in the world's biggest wheat importer rose 80 percent for the first seven months of 2017 versus the same period last year, according to the figures.

State buyer GASC is aiming to buy a record 7 million tonnes of wheat during the fiscal year that started in July, up from about 6 million tonnes last year, the supply minister said in July.

"The 7 million tonnes is the normal now as they have to fill the old fake numbers," said Hesham Soliman, president of Med Star for Trading, a private operator that says business has slowed.

Wheat buying has moved away from the private sector in the aftermath of reforms brought in this year barring private dealers smuggling foreign wheat into the local harvest to collect on subsidies.


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