Egypt to sell subsidised bread for non-ration card holders starting January: Official

Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 Nov 2023

Egypt's government will start selling discounted bread to citizens not enrolled in its ration card programme, through designated prepaid cards, as of January 2024, an official announced on Tuesday.

A file photo of bread vendor in Cairo. Photo by AFP
A file photo of bread vendor in Cairo. Photo by AFP

Citizens will be able to buy bread loaves for 1 Egyptian pound each from government-run bakeries nationwide, Abdullah Ghorab, head of the bakeries division at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (Fedcoc), said.

All 30,000 government-run bakeries countrywide will participate in this initiative, Ghorab said in remarks to the ONTV channel on Tuesday evening.

Citizens can acquire prepaid cards through the Egyptian postal service, he explained. 

Earlier this year, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi said the initiative would allow non-holders of ration cards to buy 10 or 20 loaves of subsidised bread.

However, Gohrab asserted that there will be no limit on the number of loaves that can be purchased per person.

Egypt relies heavily on wheat for making bread, a main staple of the Egyptian diet.

Government officials estimate that citizens consume almost 100 billion loaves of bread annually.

The government provides the 90-gram loaf of subsidised bread – locally known as baldy bread – to citizens enrolled in the ration card system for five piasters instead of its actual cost of 90 piasters.

Egypt's decision to offer subsidised bread for non-holders of ration cards comes as the country is facing challenges related to wheat shortage, primarily caused by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

Before the conflict, 80 percent of Egypt's imported wheat originated from Russia and Ukraine.

A World Bank report identified Egypt's food subsidy programme as the largest in MENA. 

The bread subsidy programme alone serves 72 million citizens, while the food ration cards cover more than 64 million people, according to the report.

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