EGYPT – Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, has unveiled plans of increasing local production to 3.6 million tonnes in the coming season that starts in April.

According to a report by Reuters, Egypt’s supply minister Ali Moselhy said that the state will pay farmers between US$38 and US$39 (655-685 Egyptian pounds) per ardeb (150 kilograms) of wheat depending on quality.

“This is a fair and special price … We are targeting (a harvest of) 3.6 million tonnes and the funds from the finance ministry have been secured,” Moselhy added.

However, Hussein Abu Saddam the head of the farmers’ union said that that farmers had requested for a government pay US$45.92 (800 Egyptian pounds) per 150 kilograms as in a bid to lure in more investments into wheat production.

“I expect the crop to fall this year due to the spread of yellow rust and climate change, which will increase the losses incurred by farmers,” Hussein said.

During the last harvest season, Egypt procured 3.15 million tonnes of wheat, one of its lowest tallies in years, at US$32.27 – US$34.44 per 150 kilogram unit.

Traders said at the time that some of the local crop was bought by private mills, which offered higher prices than the government, as global prices rose above the government’s price during harvest time.

According to a recent report by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, the country is currently cultivating a total of 3.8 million acres of wheat for the season which started from September-October and expected to be harvested in April-May this year.

This is an increase from a total of 3.2 million acres cultivated in 2018 which yielded 8.8 million tonnes, according to data from United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Egypt imports 11-12 million tons of wheat annually via international tenders mainly from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to meet the people’s demands of bread as the most affordable meal in the country’s food basket.

Among others, Daewoo Louis-Dreyfus, Glencore, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Aston, GTCS are the major supplier of the commodity into the country.