Egypt has bought 1.1 million tonnes of local wheat so far in the 2011/2012 season despite diesel shortages that have hampered harvesting, an official at the Ministry of Supply and Domestic Trade said late on Monday.
"The diesel shortages meant that farmers couldn't operate their machinery to harvest the crops properly, but the prices we are offering were very tempting for farmers so we managed to procure a good amount so far," Yehia Mahmoud, spokesperson for the ministry, said over the telephone.
Egypt, the world's largest importer of wheat, said in October it had raised the price it pays local farmers for their wheat to 380 Egyptian pounds ($63.60) per ardeb (140 kg) from 350 pounds during the last season to give them an incentive.
"The figure shows that we might get to the same local procurement figure we got last year by July," a Cairo-based trader said.
Local procurement increased in 2011 to 2.6 million tonnes from 2.1 million tonnes a year earlier due to better prices.
Prior to the announcement of the figure, trade sources had said farmers were facing difficulties harvesting their crops amid a diesel shortage that has plagued Egypt since the beginning of the year.
Egypt consumes around 14 million tonnes of wheat annually and imports around half of that amount.