Egypt's government has bought a record 3.7 million tons of wheat from local farmers this year, replenishing the country's stocks of domestic and imported wheat to cover the next six months, the supplies ministry told Reuters on Tuesday.
Egypt's government had expected Egypt's farmers to procure the government with more wheat than ever this year, thanks to newly-taken measures. Although the state has long subsidised local wheat, offering farmers LE2,800 per ton this year, LE600 above the global price, flaws in the system and subsistence farming have historically limited local procurement to under 4 million tons.
Last year, the government bought 3.4 million tons of domestic wheat.
Egypt needs to secure flour for a massive LE22 billion a year bread subsidy programme.
Egyptians consume a total of between 15 and 20 million tons of wheat per year, of which 10 million tons are produced locally, with the rest coming from imports.
The government had initially hoped that reforms to protect farmers from predatory wheat traders by facilitating the process of directly selling their produce to the Principal Bank for Development & Agricultural Credit (PBDAC) would boost procurement to 4.25 million tons, almost half of the projected harvest's 9.6 million tons.
But insufficient liquidity at the PBDAC and an inability to secure enough funds from the country's finance ministry limited the government's ability to buy the targeted amount of local wheat, an official in the agriculture ministry told Ahram Online on conditions of anonymity.
The surface area planted with wheat this year amounts to 3.5 million feddans, according to officials, a 100,000 feddan increase on last year. Egypt's strategic stocks of domestic and imported wheat are sufficient to last for six months, the supplies ministry told Reuters.