Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi. File photo/Cabinet
Moselhi made the remarks in a press conference reviewing the ministry’s preparations for the Adha feast (Eid Al-Adha), one of the holiest occasions in the Muslim calendar, scheduled for July this year.
Moselhi said the government has already received a total of more than 3.9 million tons of wheat from local farmers during this wheat supply season, up by 10-12 percent from last year.
The minister said the wheat supply season, which started in April, will continue until the end of August.
Egypt has spoke with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture and Russian companies about importing wheat, Moselhi said, adding that they are waiting on Moscow’s response and intend to come up with a plan within 10 days.
He added that while Russian wheat is available, securing transport has become more expensive amid the current crisis.
Egypt seeks to import around 5.5 million tons of wheat starting July for the subsidised bread system, the minister said.
The country also seeks to decrease its wheat imports by 10 percent as well as decrease the amount of wheat used in making subsidised bread by adding sweet potato, Moselhi noted.
Using sweet potato for making bread could save up to a million tons of wheat, Moselhi explained, noting that Egypt has self-sufficiency in sweet potato and is studying the technology required for the process.
Moselhi added that the new budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023 witnessed a major increase in subsidy allocations.
The country’s strategic stock of wheat is sufficient for nearly 5.7 months, Moselhi said.
Sugar and rice oil stockpiles are sufficient for 6.7 months and 3.3 months respectively, the minister said. Also, the country’s reserves of oil and frozen meat are enough for 6.2 months and six months respectively.
Egypt has repeatedly affirmed the presence of stockpiles of strategic commodities for the coming six months amid the Ukraine war and the looming food crisis globally.
Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, relies on wheat to produce bread, a key staple for Egyptians.
Prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, Egypt got 80 percent of its imported wheat from these two countries.
The country requested in late May $500 million from the World Bank to buy wheat through the Emergency Food Security and Resilience Support Project, according to a document released by the World Bank.
Egypt consumes around 18 million tons of wheat annually while local production of wheat stands at around 8-9 million tons of wheat, Moselhi said in May last year.
Over the past weeks, Egypt has worked to diversify its wheat import sources, signing contracts to purchase wheat from several countries, including France, Bulgaria, Romania and India. In mid-June, Egypt received a new shipment of 63,000 tons of wheat coming from France.
During the first week of May, Egypt signed a deal agreeing to import its first shipment from India comprising 61,500 tons of wheat.
Despite the urgent need, Egypt has worked to maintain guarantee the quality of its wheat imports. Earlier this month, authorities denied receiving a shipment of Indian wheat coming from Turkey after being rejected by Turkish authorities for not meeting safety standards and specifications.