Egypt aims to procure 4 million tonnes of wheat from its farmers’ 2014 crop, Supplies Minister Mohamed Abu Shadi was quoted as saying in an interview in state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Friday.
Egypt, the worlds biggest wheat importer, usually consumes around 18 million tonnes of wheat overall and buys about 10 million tonnes a year from international markets.
It uses a mixture of domestic and imported wheat for its subsidised bread programme, which feeds millions of people.
Local wheat production usually ranges between 9 and 9.5 million tonnes a year, the minister said, with the highest amount of wheat procured domestically in the past reaching 3.7 million tonnes.
“We seek to obtain 4 million tonnes (of local wheat),” Abu Shadi was quoted as saying with reference to this year.
“The private sector … competes with us for more than 5 million tonnes.”
Egypt reduced imports in the past year as the government of former president Mohamed Mursi bet on a higher domestic crop.
However, industry experts said the policy has left the country at least 900,000 tonnes short of the wheat needed for its subsidy programme.
The Egyptian government is now targeting imports of 5 million to 5.5 million tonnes in the year to June 30, 2014.
Egypt intends to build 10 silos to store a total 300,000 tonnes of wheat under the second phase of its plan to reduce reliance on imports, Abu Shadi said on Thursday. The overall scheme seeks to construct 50 silos.