Reuters – Egypt estimates its local wheat crop at 9 million tonnes, according to a state newspaper that cited a government report, lower than the 9.5 million tonnes the Agriculture Minister had predicted.
Traders surveyed in a Reuters poll estimated this year’s crop at around 7 million tonnes, in line with the previous harvest. The government’s estimates are consistently below those of private traders.
Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, 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.
Some 3.2 million feddans (1.34 million hectares) of land had been planted with the strategic crop this year, the official Al-Ahram newspaper said on its website, citing a report by the Agriculture Ministry and the State Ministry for Scientific Research.
The government began buying wheat from local farmers last week during a harvest season that runs through June. It has set aside about $1.4bn. It has said it aims to purchase 4 million tonnes of the local crop.
It typically buys 3.6 million tonnes of wheat from farmers each year for a subsidised bread programme that feeds millions.
Agriculture Minister Ayman Abou Hadid was quoted by official media last month saying that the government expected the harvest to reach 9.5 million tonnes.