Egypt may lose 10% to 20% of its overall wheat supplies due to inadequate infrastructure along the supply chain, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
During a conference entitled “Securing the future of Baladi bread” held on Wednesday, the participants assured that Egypt is Africa’s largest grain producer and the world’s biggest importer of foreign-grown grains.
Baladi bread is typical Egyptian flatbread that is a staple for Egypt’s fast-growing population.
EBRD Director for Agribusiness Gilles Mettetal said that developing key logistical and storage infrastructure could be a turning point in improving import efficiency in Egypt’s grain sector.
Mettetal said the government and the private sector can achieve this if there is strong willingness to move towards a more liberalised market to boost private investment and competitiveness.
He added that the bread industry is also hampered by complex tender procedures and inspection requirements that increase the cost of Egyptian grain imports.
An economist at FAO’s Investment Centre, Dmitry Prikhodko, agreed with Mettetal in this regard, saying that streamlining tender procedures, greater transparency, and consultation in the application of phytosanitary measures in line with international practice will greatly contribute to the efficiency of the grain supply chain and could eventually lead to important savings for Egyptian consumers.
FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Abdessalam Ould Ahmed said that Egypt is aware of the importance of wheat as a strategic food item.
Ould Ahmed added that FAO is doing its part in offering the technical expertise to reduce loss and waste in the value chain, and in introducing water-saving techniques in irrigation.
The conference was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and EBRD and brought together representatives from both the private and public sectors.