Egyptian farmer, harvests wheat on his farm, in Qalubiyah, north Cairo, Egypt (AP Photo)
Egypt's latest purchases of international wheat will ensure the country's needs are met until the first week of April 2015, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi announced on Friday.
Egypt has signed contracts for 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat and 60,000 tonnes of French wheat, at an average price of $262.92 per tonne, to be delivered next month after the 13th global tender for wheat in this year's budget, said Hanafi.
Egypt imported 5.46 million tonnes of wheat to supplement the 3.7 million tonnes of locally procured wheat in the last fiscal year, which ended on 30 June.
The government, which runs a bread subsidy programme for some 69 million Egyptians, is the world's number one importer of wheat.
Earlier this year, authorities launched a new subsidised bread programme which aims to reduce smuggling and cut down on wheat spending by selling flour to bakers at a non-subsidised price and encouraging beneficiaries to exchange their bread ration for other subsidised foodstuffs through a smart-card system.
The system, which is being introduced gradually throughout the country, currently covers over a dozen of Egypt's 27 governorates, including Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.
Earlier this month the government signed an agreement with Blumberg Grain to replace 93 local wheat barns with advanced food security technology and systems at a cost of $28 million (LE200 million) by April.
In April through to July, during the wheat harvest season, the government buys wheat from local farmers estimated to reach 3.5 million tonnes in fiscal year 2014-15 at LE420 (about $60) per l'erdeb (150 kg), to be stored in the new advanced barns system.