Egypt’s strategic wheat reserve ‘exceeds safety limits,’ lasts to May 2016
Amin Hassan, 30, holds wheat grains in a field in Qaha at El-Kalubia governorate, near Cairo, May 5, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
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CAIRO: Egypt’s strategic reserve of wheat “exceeds safety limits” and lasts until the first week of May 2016, Mamdouh Abdel Fatah, vice president of General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC,) told Youm7 Thursday.

Egypt, one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, has recently signed a contract to purchase 120,000 tons of grains from Argentine, according to Abdel Fatah.

With a population of 90 million, Egypt has repeatedly imported grains through launching global tenders, to cover the needs of its citizens. In October only, the amount of purchased wheat reached 895,000 tons, mostly from Russia, France, Poland and Romania.

Egypt’s wheat imports for 2015-2016 are estimated at “11 million tons, the same as the previous year and the average for the last five years,” said Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO.)

Bids by local and international companies are chosen according to “high quality and low prices,” added Abdel Fatah.

In April, Egypt started implementing a new “smart card” system to distribute subsidized bread which meant farmers were less likely to hold on to their crop for personal consumption.

Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafy referred to the increase in amount of wheat purchased from farmers as a result of “attractive prices” offered by the government, in May statements to Reuters.

This year, Egypt is paying its farmers 420 Egyptian pounds ($55) per ardeb, which is equivalent to about 150 kg. A total of 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.3 billion) has been allocated for local wheat purchases.

Next season, the government will buy wheat from farmers at average global price, according to Reuters.

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