The government has announced plans to import three million tons of wheat during the first half of 2010 at a total cost of LE6 billion. "Sixty percent of the cost will come from the LE4.7 billion allocated for wheat subsidies," said Hisham Ragab, advisor to the trade and industry minister.
Egypt is one of the world’s biggest importers of wheat, with total wheat imports reaching five million tons in the 2008/2009 fiscal year alone. Most imported wheat comes from Russia and the United States, while smaller quantities are also imported from France and Canada. Egypt also boasts one of the highest wheat consumption rates in the world, at an annual 120 kg per capita.
Meanwhile, France is reportedly working to increase the 60,000 tons of wheat it currently exports to Egypt every year. Egypt, however, demands that exporters ship their wheat from a single seaport–a requirement that France cannot meet since its primary seaport for wheat shipments, the port of Rouen, is too small for big cargo vessels.
"The government must encourage local wheat farming so as to reduce the widening gap between production capacity and domestic demand," Ahmed el-Khatib, a professor at the Cairo-based National Institute for Agricultural Research, said.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.