Egypt's wheat supply sufficient to last until 5 March: Minister

Reuters, Sunday 17 Nov 2013

The government aims to increase soon Egypt's wheat storage capacity to three million tons; minister cites wheat imports policy as ousted president Morsi's greatest mistake

A farmer harvests wheat on a field in the El-Menoufia governorate, about 99 km (62 miles) north of Cairo in this April 23, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's wheat supply is sufficient to last the country until 5 March, the supplies minister said Saturday.

Mohamed Abu Shadi said in comments published by the state news agency MENA that Egypt had imported 2.3 million tons of wheat during the "last period," without specifying a timeframe for those purchases.

Egypt's wheat storage capacity will reach three million tons once the construction of 100 government-built silos is complete, Abu Shadi said.

Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat and needs huge quantities to make flour for its bread subsidy programme.

The main government wheat buying entity, the General Authority for Supply Commodities, made its most recent wheat purchase Thursday, buying 240,000 tons of Romanian and French wheat for shipment 1-15 December.

Abu Shadi told Reuters in an interview shortly after the army overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July that the biggest mistake Mrsi made was dramatically reducing wheat imports.

Since the ouster of Morsi, the government has made 11 tenders. Prior to his departure, Morsi's government had only made one tender this year, betting on a higher domestic crop yeild.

Industry experts said the policy left the country with a wheat shortfall of at least 900,000 tons, needed for the subsidy programme.

Abu Shadi told Reuters last month the interim government would increase stocks to last until the end of March 2014.

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