Egypt's Supply Minister Mohamed Ali El-Sheikh speaks during a news conference at the headquarters of the Ministry of Trade and Supply in Cairo, Egypt October 19, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's supplies of essential foodstuff are sufficient to cover five to six months, Supply Minister Mohamed Ali El-Sheikh told a parliamentary committee on Monday.
In statements reported by state news agency MENA, the minister said that there was enough sugar to last for four and a half months, and enough oil for 5 and a half months.
Egypt has been suffering from a shortage of certain basic foodstuff, including sugar and rice, due to an acute dollar shortage.
The severe sugar shortage has resulted in a price hike in unsubsidised sugar that has reached EGP 9-10 per kilogramme, up from EGP 4.5-6 in August.
The ministry announced earlier this month that it had set the price of subsidized sugar at EGP 5 per kilogramme and increased the price for commercial and industrial purposes from EGP 6 to 7 per kg, in an attempt to regulate the market.
On the sugar shortage, El-Sheikh said that the price of sugar has increased internationally, adding that with traders not importing sugar, his ministry found itself in a crisis without proper notice.
He pointed out that there were sugar reserves available, however, saying that the ministry had already been providing 70,000 tonnes of sugar, before it increased to 240,000 tonnes to resolve the crisis.
On the shortage of rice, El-Sheikh said that it was the only food commodity with no reserves due to farmers reneging on an agreement to supply rice to the ministry.
In recent months, rice has been among the essential foodstuff facing price hikes as a result of low supply due to traders hoarding stock.
According to the US Department of Agriculture's Grain and Feed annual report issued in October, the post forecast for milled rice production in Egypt is at 4.0 million metric tonnes with a post forecast for rice consumption at 3.5 million metric tonnes in 2016/17.
Earlier in parliament on Monday, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that the government is planning on importing all essential foodstuff for 6 months at a cost of USD 1.8 billion, following an agreement with the Central Bank of Egypt.
The country's net international reserves currently stand at $19.591 billion, according to the central bank.