EGYPT – Egypt’s wheat imports are projected to increase from 12.3 million tonnes to 12.5 million tonnes in the year 2018/19 despite strong local production forecasts, according to USDA’s Global Agricultural Information (GAIN) September report.

Wheat consumption in 2018-19 is forecast at 20.1 million tonnes by the USDA, up 1.5% from the 2017-18 estimate of 19.8 million tonnes.

The report attributed the rise to a 1.6% increase in food, seed and industrial use (FSI) consumption as well as population growth of about 2.5%.

Egypt is traditionally the largest importer of wheat, as its per capita consumption of bread products ranks among the highest in the world.

While planted area at roughly 1.32 million hectares remains unchanged, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) has been promoting vertical expansion thus, increasing yields per unit area.

To sustain its bread subsidy programme, the government announced the purchase of 3.15 MMT of domestically produced wheat.

Egypt’s largest wheat purchaser, General Authority for Supply Commodities, an agency of the MoSIT issued 28 import tenders for 6.64.MMT of wheat in MY2017/18 compared to 5.85 MMT the previous year.

The largest foreign suppliers to Egypt included Russia, Romania, Ukraine, France.

The USDA estimates 2018-19 corn imports at 9.5 million tonnes, up 1% from the previous year.

Rice production is expected to fall significantly in 2018-19 to 2.8 million tonnes, a downward revision from an earlier figure of 3.3 million tonnes due to a decrease in planted area.

The USDA projects the planted area for rice dropping to 462,000 hectares from 762,000 the year before.

“Farmers are now shifting to cotton or corn in response to more competitive government procurement prices,” said the report.

2018-19 rice imports are expected to be significantly higher at 300,000 tonnes compared to 50,000 tonnes in 2017-18.