A laborer prepares pesticide to spray in standing wheat crop in Moga district of Indian state of Punjab. AP
“India is in final talks to start wheat export to Egypt, and discussions are ongoing with Turkey, China, Bosnia, Sudan, Nigeria, Iran, etc as well,” the statement explained.
The south-east Asian country said it is now looking to scale up wheat exports to “alleviate any global supply chain disruptions in view of the geopolitical situation.”
Over the past two weeks, the Russian-Ukrainian war has led to a disruption of wheat exports from eastern Europe and remarkable global inflation since Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly 30 percent of the world’s wheat exports.
Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, relies on wheat to produce bread — a key staple for Egyptians — with 80 percent of its wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine.
The country is currently seeking to diversify its wheat imports, setting its eyes on 14 alternative markets, including non-European countries like the US, Argentina, Canada, and Paraguay.
In early March, Egypt also imposed an export ban on wheat, fava beans, lentils, pasta, flour, cooking oil, corn, and cracked green wheat for three months.
Meanwhile, the government set on Monday fixed prices for unsubsidised bread for three months — or until further notice — with heavy fines to be imposed against violators, effective Tuesday.
Egypt is expected not to resort to buying wheat from the global market until the end of the year, according to recent remarks by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, as the country already has enough reserves and locally produced wheat to satisfy its demand for almost eight months.
In 2021, Egypt imported 5.5 million tonnes of wheat to supplement the 3.5 million tonnes that were supplied by local farmers to the supply ministry.
The government is currently seeking to incentivise wheat farmers to increase the amount they supply to the supply ministry in order to limit its reliance on imports.
On Wednesday, the cabinet granted wheat farmers an incentive paying out an additional EGP 65 for each ardeb (One ardeb is equivalent to 150kg) to encourage increasing the quantities they sell to the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade.
According to officials, Egypt expects wheat imports in 2022 to drop to 5.3 million tonnes due to an increase in local production and supply.