Egypt will begin halting rice exports in order to pre-empt a domestic supply shortage, as the government needs around 1.4 million tonnes of rice to distribute through its subsidy cards.
According to Al-Ahram's Arabic website, Egyptian Minister of Supply and Interior Trade Mohamed Abu Shady has agreed with Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi to stop exports on rice in order to meet all market demands, which currently stands at four million tonnes.
Rationed food reaches around 69 million people out of a total population of 90 million.
"Egypt's rice production in 2013 is estimated at 7.5 million tonnes; the result of cultivating 2.2 million feddans," supply ministry spokesman Mahmoud Diab told Ahram Online.
In October 2012, the Egyptian government announced that it would resume exporting rice following a four-year ban.
In March 2008, then-trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid imposed a blanket ban on Egyptian rice exports in hopes of shoring up waning rice supplies in the domestic market.
According to Egypt's General Organisation for Export & Import Control, Egyptian rice exports have generated a total of $186 million so far in 2013.
Despite the export ban, this figure rose in 2009 and 2010 to $409 million and $334 million, respectively.
Rice exporters have urged Abu Shady to reopen the door for exporting, especially since average exports have declined from 1.2 million to 400,000 tonnes per annum.