Egypt wheat stocks fall; enough for 89 days
Cairo, March 13, 2013
Strategic stocks of wheat held by top global importer Egypt stand at 2.207 million tonnes from international and local markets, enough to last 89 days, a cabinet report said on Wednesday.
That compares with stocks of 2.292 million tonnes, or 95 days cover, reported on February 27.
Egypt's wheat imports are sharply down this year as the country struggles through a political and economic crisis.
"The total strategic stocks of local and imported wheat have reached 2.207 million tonnes, enough for 89 days until June 9, 2013," a report by the cabinet said.
The Egyptian pound has fallen more than 8 percent since the end of last year, pushing up the cost of imports of wheat paid for in dollars. Foreign currency reserves are at critically low levels and the crisis has made it harder for Egypt to arrange payments.
Egypt bought around 235,000 tonnes of wheat on the international market between Jan 1 and Feb 20, roughly a third of what it purchased in the same period a year ago.
Egypt normally buys strategically to ensure that it has wheat stocks equal to at least six months' consumption in its silos. The North African country relies heavily on imports to feed its 84 million people; half of the wheat they consume is imported.
Meanwhile, Egypt expects to produce more than 9 million tonnes of wheat this year, a cabinet report said.
The report quoted Agriculture Minister Salah Abdel Momen as saying that he expects a "a rise in this year's wheat harvest, which will be more than 9 million tonnes."
Egypt produced 8.69 million tonnes of wheat in the summer 2012, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation. - Reuters