A farmer harvests wheat on a field in the El-Menoufia governorate, about 9.94 km (58 miles) north of Cairo April 23, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's wheat harvest this year is "better than expected" and has exceeded "already optimistic" forecasts, Supply Minister Bassem Ouda has said.
Ouda told reporters on Thursday that Egyptian authorities had already received 996,000 tonnes of wheat from the local market, compared to just 209,000 tonnes in the same period last year.
"We have only rejected 4,000 tonnes. In the past 24 hours we have received 130,000 tonnes," he said.
Egyptian officials expect the local wheat harvest to reach 9.5 million tonnes, a figure that is higher than the 7-8 million averages seen in the past few years.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, however, sees the harvest at 8.7 million tonnes in the current year.
Wheat consumption in 2012/13 reached 16.7 million tonnes. Egypt usually fills the shortfall through importing some 10 million tonnes of wheat annually. This year, the government has said it hopes cut wheat imports by nearly half.
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said last week that he saw self-sufficiency in wheat production at 65 percent from 45 percent last year.
Egypt is suffering from a shortage of foreign currency due to weak inflows from investment and tourism since an uprising in 2011 unseated Hosni Mubarak.
Foreign currency reserves were eaten up in the past two years as the Central Bank of Egypt provided the currency necessary to import essentials. Currency reserves currently stand at $14.4 billion.