CAIRO: Egypt has appointed a new head of its agriculture quarantine authority, the ministry of agriculture said on Sunday, replacing Saad Moussa, a figure who has been at the centre of a controversy over the country’s wheat import requirements.
As head of the agricultural quarantine agency Saad Moussa imposed a zero tolerance policy on ergot, a common grains fungus, a policy at odds with the ministry of agriculture and supply backing a more common international standard that allows trace levels.
“Essam Fayed the minister of agriculture has appointed Ibrahim Ahmed Imbabi, head of the Plant Pathology Research Institute, to head the central administration of the agricultural quarantine authority,” a statement from the ministry said.
Many traders, who say guaranteeing zero ergot is impossible, have declined in recent months to make offers in state wheat tenders, saying it was too costly to risk having their shipments later turned away by Moussa’s quarantine authority.
The disrupted wheat tenders have raised the possibility of a shortage of grain which could pose a political problem for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the impoverished population relies on highly subsidised bread.
The ministry said Imbabi’s appointment was part of a plan to “restructure the ministry of agriculture and its various sectors, to develop and improve its performance”.