Conflicting Reports regarding Egypt’s wheat supply

Conflicting Reports regarding Egypt’s wheat supply

Bassem Ouda stated that the government had 3m tonnes of domestic wheat left in its stores left from a 3.7m tonne purchase from the current harvest. (AFP Photo)

Bassem Ouda stated that the government had 3m tonnes of domestic wheat left in its stores left from a 3.7m tonne purchase from the current harvest.
(AFP Photo)

By Sara Aggour and Doaa Farid

Bassem Ouda, the former supply minister, announced to Reuters that the country will start importing wheat within the next two months, contradicting his previous statement that wheat imports will not start before December.

Ouda stated that the government had 3m tonnes of domestic wheat left in its stores left from a 3.7m tonne purchase from the current harvest.

Naguib Metwally, the chairman of the South Cairo Mills, stated that Egypt is bound to import wheat soon: “If we continue with our current consumption rate we will definitely import wheat before November.”

“The country consumes around 750,000 tonnes of wheat per month and a total 10m tonnes per year, of which 9m tonnes are subsidised while the remaining 1m tonne is half-subsidised,” Metwally added.

Metwally said that delays in starting imports negotiations will put Egypt in a critical condition, adding: “the postponement of the order placement means less wheat reserves, so the further we push the negotiation the worse it will be for us because…. the exporter gains the power to control the price.”

Hesham Abo Eldahab, a former member in the chamber of grains industry, said: “there’s no credibility in the numbers, so we can’t consider it as fact”. He added that before the 30 June uprising the wheat reports were stating that Egypt was approaching self-sufficiency.

Prior to the ousting of the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, an economic committee member at the Freedom and Justice Party stated that wheat imports had decreased from 10m tonnes to 6.6m tonnes.

When asked about the quantities of wheat reserves available, Ahmed Shiha, the head of importers division in Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said: “I believe that quantities available will satisfy our wheat needs until the end of December.”

“Egypt has imported wheat and local wheat that will be sufficient for our needs until the end of November,” Mamdouh Abd El-Fattah, the vice-president for the General Authority of Supply Commodities (GASC).

Hefzy Sadek, the deputy of Giza supply directorate, said the wheat reserves in Giza will be sufficient for the next 5 months. He added that Giza receives 50,800 tonnes of wheat from the ministry each month.

The former vice-president of the Supply Commodities Authority Nasr Noamany told Asharq Alawsat newspaper on Friday that wheat reserves in the country are still at safe levels.

He added that Egypt suspended importing wheat since February after expectations of higher domestic crop size. “During the last period, a large number of wheat is kept and mixed with the local wheat,” Noamany added.

Noamany also said that in the beginning of the last fiscal year in July 2012 the wheat stock was about 2.1 m tonnes of imported wheat in addition to 7.3m tonnes of domestic wheat.

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