A photo for rice harvest in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate in northern Egypt, 2022. Press photo
In August, the supply ministry mandated that farmers must supply one ton of barley rice for every feddan cultivated with rice, which amounts to 25 percent of a typical 3.5 to 4-ton yield, to regulate the trade in local barley rice during the current season.
Stocking up on rice and failing to sell it after the deadline is punishable by a jail term of no less than one year and a fine of EGP 100,000 to EGP 2 million, the ministry warned in a statement on Saturday.
The deadline has been extended to give rice owners the opportunity to report to the Ministry of Supply the quantities of barely and white rice they have, the statement cited supply minister Ali Moselhi as saying.
The supply ministry has banned the export of rice in recent months to “preserve its strategic reserves” and fix its prices in the local market to range between EGP 15 and EGP 18.
Earlier this month, the cabinet said rice will be considered a strategic commodity, which means that the government is entitled to regulate its trading in the market for a specific period of time as per the country’s consumer protection act.
Last week, the ministry warned that farmers who do not abide by the decision will not be allowed to plant rice during the following year or be granted subsidised fertiliser and pesticide for a period of one year.
The ministry noted that violators will also be required to pay the cost of the undelivered quantities (EGP 10,000 per ton).
Egypt has achieved self-sufficiency in rice in recent years. However, markets have seen a surge in rice prices during the past few months, which officials have blamed on manipulatory practices.
This month, authorities have confiscated dozens of tons of rice whose owners have attempted to trade on the black market amid intensified market monitoring campaigns by the government’s Consumer Protection Agency to prevent price gouging in strategic commodities.
Head of the Egyptian Farmers Syndicate Hussein Abu Saddam told Al-Masry Al-Youm in October that manipulatory practices are behind the current crisis in rice prices.
Egypt cultivated around 5 million tonnes of white rice this season, while the annual consumption is less than 3.5 million tonnes per year, Abu Saddam said.