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Egypt extends purchases to buy 4 mn tons local wheat

Reuters, Sunday 29 Jun 2014
wheat
Egypt's wheat (Photo:Ahram)
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Egypt, the world's top wheat importer, has extended the period in which it purchases domestic wheat from its local harvest by 10 days to June 30 and expects to buy 4 million tonnes in total, an Agriculture Ministry source told state news agency MENA.

The Supplies Ministry said last week that Egypt had bought 3.7 million tonnes of domestic wheat this year.

But MENA said the Agriculture Ministry had agreed with the Supplies Ministry to extend the deadline and buy more locally.

The amount of domestic wheat bought by the government during this year's harvest is far lower than its initial target of 4.4 million tonnes from local farmers.

Egypt is striving to boost its self-sufficiency and reduce its 32 billion Egyptian pound ($4.5 billion) food import bill.

It faces a range of challenges in increasing its domestic supply, from poor storage and transportation systems that cause waste to a lack of desire from farmers to sell more of the wheat they grow to the government.

Egypt is considering removing the premium price the government pays to local farmers for their grain in a bid to claw back millions of dollars lost annually on fraudulent sales of cheap foreign wheat passed off as local crop.

Egypt pays domestic farmers over $100 per tonne above the world market price for their wheat to encourage sales to the state, but this has also led to profiteering, with the proceeds split between importers, farmers and others along the supply chain.

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