Egyptian farmer, harvests wheat on his farm, in Qalubiyah, north Cairo, Egypt (AP Photo)
Egypt's latest purchases of international wheat will ensure that the country's needs are met until the end of May 2015, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi announced on Friday.
Egypt signed contracts for 180,000 tonnes of French and 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat at an average price of $240.25 per tonne, to be delivered starting 15 March for a period of 10 days, 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 program for some 69 million Egyptians, is the world's number one importer of wheat.
Earlier this year, authorities launched a new subsidised bread program 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.
Food subsidies account for four percent of total expenditure in the 2014/2015 budget, compared to 4.2 percent in the previous year's budget.
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, Egypt's second