Attempts are ongoing to release wheat shipment stuck in Ukraine: Egypt minister

Nada Nader, Thursday 28 Jul 2022

Egypt has received all the wheat shipments for which it had signed agreements with Russia and Ukraine prior to the war between the two countries, with the exception of one 63,000-ton shipment, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhy said.

Ali Moselhy
Presidency of the Egyptian Council of Ministers. Official site


Moselhy made the remarks in a phone call to Ala Masoulity TV program aired on Sada El-Balad channel on Wednesday evening.

Moselhy addressed the food security situation in Egypt amid the supply chain disruption in the Black Sea as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war that broke out on 24 February.

“We are following up with the foreign ministry and our ambassador in Russia to release the remaining grain shipment that is stuck in the Black Sea after reports of opening a safe passage for grain to reach the world within a week, or even a month, but at least we are seeing a positive stance,” Moselhy said.

Russia and Ukraine signed a deal last week to resume grain shipments across the Black Sea through a safe passage to alleviate the threat of starvation in some of the poorest parts of the world.

About 300,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat bought by Egypt were stranded in Ukraine in May, Reuters reported at the time.

Moselhy said that Egypt has harvested over 4 billion tons of wheat in the ongoing harvest season – which started in April and will continue until the end of August – with a total cost of EGP 23 billion.

The local wheat supply, which is expected to increase from 3.5 million tons in 2021 to 6 million tons this year, will boost the strategic wheat reserves to cover local consumption until January 2023, according to previous official statements.

In June, Moselhy told Reuters that Egypt “needs to import 5 million tons of wheat for the fiscal year 2022/2023.”

Moselhy also disclosed on Wednesday that there is a plan to cultivate additional 600,000 feddans in Toshka and 400,000 feddans at part of the Mostakbal Misr (Egypt’s Future) project next year.

According to previous remarks by the Minister of Agriculture, the country’s cultivated area of wheat in the 2021/2022 season is 3.65 million feddans, up with by more than 400,000 feddans compared to the previous year.

Moselhy stressed that the expected outcome of the two projects will be around 2.2 million tons of wheat, saving about $1 billion from the wheat import budget.

In 2020, Egypt – the largest wheat importer – imported 12.8 million tons of wheat for about $3.2 billion, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The Egypt’s Future project is part of a larger mega project dubbed the New Delta Project, which seeks to reclaim over 2 million feddans in the Western Desert as part of the state’s strategy to expand the area of agricultural land.

The planned projects aim to increase the country’s local wheat production to meet 65 percent of domestic consumption by 2024.

Egypt has in recent years imported nearly 80 percent of its grain from Russia and Ukraine through the Black Sea due to its high quality, competitive pricing, and the two countries’ geographical proximity.

On the heels of the supply chain disruptions caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Egypt is currently diversifying its import sources, at the top of which is India, which has exempted Egypt from its recent wheat export ban.

Egypt's General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), the country's grain buyer, announced on 30 June contracting 815,000 tons in tender from four counties – France, Romania, Russia and Bulgaria.

The Egyptian government uses much of the imported wheat to make subsidised bread – a key staple of the daily Egyptian diet for more than 70 million citizens – and it aims to decrease its wheat consumption by adding sweet potato to subsidised bread, according to previous remarks by the supply minister.

Using sweet potato for making bread could save million tons of wheat, Moselhy explained, noting that Egypt has self-sufficiency in sweet potato and is studying the technology required for the process.

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