Coronavirus grounds Egypt wheat inspectors

Reuters , Tuesday 17 Mar 2020

A man walks through a field of wheat in Toukh, El-Kalubia governorate (Reuters)
A man walks through a field of wheat in Toukh, El-Kalubia governorate (Reuters)

Egypt, the world's largest wheat buyer, has halted travelling by its wheat inspectors, the head of the agriculture quarantine body told Reuters on Tuesday, after the country decided to shut its air traffic to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Delegations currently in Russia and Ukraine will return and be put under a 15-day quarantine. Only one delegation will remain in France pending further announcements on a curfew or travel restrictions by Paris, quarantine chief Ahmed al-Attar said.

"The delegation has been in France for two days and is expected to continue its work there, inspecting a large wheat cargo for 17 days. But if France announces a curfew or a travel ban, they need to return quickly," quarantine chief Attar said.

The state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) stipulated in December that suppliers send a delegation of inspectors from the state's agricultural quarantine to check cargoes of wheat at their port of origin after a halt in the process for around two years.

GASC had bought a 60,000 tonne wheat cargo from France for a mid-March shipping period.

Some suppliers say getting cargoes inspected at ports of origin by Egyptian government inspectors makes acceptance of the wheat on arrival at Egyptian ports a smoother process.

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