Egypt seeks to import 10 million tons of wheat over the next six months

EGYPT—Egypt is seeking to import 10 million tons of wheat during the next six months, Asharq Business reported, citing Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali El-Moselhi.

Egypt consumes around 18 million tons of wheat annually while local production of wheat stands at around 8-9 million tons of wheat, Moselhi said in May last year.

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He revealed that the government has so far received around 3.9 million tons of wheat from local farmers, adding that wheat reserves are sufficient for 5.7 months.

The government will mull over the import of wheat with Russia’s National Union of Grain Producers with a decision expected to be reached within 10 days, the Egyptian minister noted.

Moselhi added that while Russian wheat is available, securing transport has become more expensive amid the current crisis. The increase in wheat prices will cost the state’s general budget US$ 1.17 billion, El-Moselhi said.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer and prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, Egypt got 80 percent of its imported wheat from these two countries.

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The war has created nutritional shortfalls, particularly for people who rely on bread for their daily nutritional needs. Bread is a staple in Egypt

In light of this, the country seeks to import around 5.5 million tons of wheat starting July for the subsidised bread system, the minister said.

Additionally, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$500 million loan towards a food program to bolster Egypt’s efforts to ensure that poor and vulnerable households have uninterrupted access to bread.

The program is also set to strengthen Egypt’s resilience to food crises and to support reforms in food security policies, including to improve nutritional outcomes.

Over the past weeks, Egypt has worked to diversify its wheat import sources, signing contracts to purchase wheat from several countries, including France, Bulgaria, Romania and India, and in mid-June, received a new shipment of 63,000 tons of wheat from France.

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During the first week of May, Egypt signed a deal agreeing to import its first shipment from India comprising 61,500 tons of wheat.

Moselhi unveiled that the Egyptian government had sealed yet another deal with India to import 180,000 tons of wheat

Despite the urgent need, Egypt has worked to ascertain the quality of its wheat imports and earlier this month denied receiving a shipment of Indian wheat coming from Turkey after being rejected by Turkish authorities for not meeting safety standards and specifications.

The country also seeks to decrease its wheat imports by 10 percent as well as decrease the amount of wheat used in making subsidised bread by adding sweet potato, Moselhi noted.

Using sweet potato for making bread could save up to a million tons of wheat, Moselhi explained, noting that Egypt has self-sufficiency in sweet potato and is studying the technology required for the process.

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