Egypt raises price paid to local wheat farmers

Cairo | Reuters — Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, will pay local wheat farmers 500 Egyptian pounds (US$70.87) per Egyptian ardeb, the equivalent of around 150 kg, according to a statement posted on the finance ministry’s official Facebook page.

Last year the government raised the fixed price it pays for local wheat to 420 pounds per ardeb from 400 pounds, with the aim of encouraging farmers to grow wheat. The local price exceeds the price Egypt pays in the international market by more than US$100 per tonne.

Neither the finance ministry nor the supplies ministry, in charge of wheat procurement, could immediately be reached for comment.

Egypt has bought more than 1.2 million tonnes of local wheat since the start of the procurement season last month, Agriculture Minister Ayman Abou Hadid said on Sunday.

Egypt estimates its total local wheat crop this year at around nine million tonnes and the government is aiming to buy four million tonnes from the crop.

Traders surveyed in a Reuters poll estimated this year’s crop at around seven million tonnes, in line with the previous harvest. Private traders’ estimates for the local crop are consistently below government estimates.

Egypt is aiming to boost domestic production in an effort to cut its import bill. The state and private buyers purchase around 10 million tonnes from abroad annually.

— Reporting for Reuters by Shadia Nasralla in Cairo.

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