Egyptian wheat security under threat

Doaa Farid
2 Min Read
A Pakistani woman harvests wheat in Lahore on April 13, 2010. As the wheat harvesting continues in full swing in Sindh province and southern Punjab, its production is expected to be around 24 million tons this year. AFP PHOTO/Arif ALI

The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) announced earlier this month a tender to buy 55,000 to 60,000 tonnes of wheat, to be imported from 2 to 11 March.

Egypt faces an impending crisis in its main food commodity as suppliers boycotted a tender issued earlier this month in protest of new import rules.

Local media reported that suppliers did not apply for the tender due to Egypt’s adoption of a new policy towards completely eliminating the presence of ergot fungus in its imported wheat. The international limit for wheat fungus is 0.5%.

The GASC intended for this tender to attract applications from US, French, Australian, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, or Canadian wheat suppliers.

In January, the GASC rejected a 63,000 tonne import shipment of wheat from France that contained a 0.05% trace of ergot fungi. Another French wheat shipment was also rejected in December by the Central Administration of Agricultural Quarantine.

In response, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafy addressed suppliers in a press conference earlier this week. He said that wheat shipments would have to pass quality tests in their country of origin.

Hanafy said that wheat reserves are sufficient to sustain domestic consumption until May.

Egypt adopted several steps to improve the quality of imported wheat and its storage. In June, the Ministry of Supply announced that it is enforcing a plan to reduce the average time required to unload wheat in ports to five or six days from the current 12 days. The decision was taken to reduce the hard currency paid that must be paid to ships that dock in ports during the unloading process.

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