Egypt bought 5.3 million tonnes of local wheat by end of season: supplies minister

Reuters , Wednesday 17 Jun 2015

Egypt bought a total of 5.3 million tonnes of local wheat during the procurement season which ended this week, the country's supplies minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

The supplies ministry said last week that the season, which began in mid-April, would finish on Monday, far earlier than mid-July as previously stated.

"The local procurement season ended on Monday and we got about 5.3 million tonnes of local wheat," Khaled Hanafi said.

State news agency MENA cited the deputy head of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) on Wednesday as saying the total procured by the end of the season was 5.345 million tonnes.

The figure is close to the government's procurement target of 5.3 million tonnes and far higher than the 3.7 million tonnes procured in the 2014 season.

The supplies ministry has said the record level was largely due to the high price offered to farmers.

Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, fixes a local procurement price each year for Egyptian wheat above global prices in an attempt to encourage farmers to grow the crop.

This year, 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.3 billion) has been allocated for local wheat purchases. The fixed price is 420 Egyptian pounds ($55.05) per ardeb, which is equivalent to about 150 kg. The price was about $168 a tonne to $200 a tonne higher than the international market.

Still, traders and experts argue the high price has further complicated a chronic smuggling problem, where foreign wheat falsely labeled as Egyptian is sold to the government pushing up the procurement figures. 

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