Egypt declares a ban on third-party wheat trading as it grapples with a global wheat shortage

EGYPT — Egypt’s cabinet declares a ban on third-party wheat trading until the end of August, barring any sales to anybody other than the government, as it continues to grapple with a global wheat shortage and rising prices.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war cut Egypt off from much of the Black Sea wheat on which it relied; the government now aims to buy the whole harvest—it targets 6 million tonnes of domestic wheat this year—from local farmers.

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In April, Egypt approved India as a wheat supplier as it attempted to diversify its wheat sources, but in mid-May, India, whose own wheat production is suffering amid terrible heat and drought, banned most exports.

However, a private trader in Egypt has bought the 56,877 tonnes of Indian Durum wheat rejected by Turkey earlier this week and India and Egypt are reportedly in talks to exchange wheat for fertilizer amid the growing food supply crunch.

Egyptian Supply Minister Aly El-Moselhy said that for the potential deal, India would export wheat to Egypt and would get fertilizers and other products in return.

In another measure to ensure wheat supply, Egypt’s government approved raising the acceptable moisture content in wheat imports from 13.5% to 14% to encourage more offers from other wheat-producing regions such as Poland and the Baltics for its state grains buyers’ tenders.

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Egypt’s state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), recently said it purchased 465,000 tonnes of wheat in an international tender, including 175,000 tonnes from Russia, 240,000 tonnes from Romania and 50,000 tonnes from Bulgaria. This is its largest wheat purchase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The Egyptian government has also approved direct purchases from countries or companies as it grapples to meet its wheat stocks requirements and is in talks with Australia, Kazakhstan and France for such deals.

Under a food security programme pending approval by the World Bank board, Egypt would receive US$380 million to help its state grains buyer import up to 700,000 tonnes of wheat for its bread subsidy programme, a World Bank document showed.

An additional US$117.5 million would be allocated for increasing silo capacity, financing development of high-yield wheat varieties and improving climate resilience.

Separately, the European Commission has mobilized US$80.24 million for the expansion of Egypt’s wheat storage capacity, and US$26.75 million for small and medium enterprises in the agriculture sector, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said, following a visit to Cairo.

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