I used to offer three rice varieties over the past two weeks, be it broken or otherwise. However, there is only one type on the market now, and it has risen from EGP 6 to more than EGP 9 per kilogram, said Mohamed Hamdy Baqal, a grocery store owner from Sixth of October city.
Hamdy expected the pricing per a kilogram of rice to exceed EGP 12 in the coming weeks as traders stored sizable amounts of the staple in preparation of its price rising.
The ministry recently decided to reduce rice cultivation space in Egypt from 1.7m feddans to 724,200 feddans in a bid to ration water consumption.
A member of parliament, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduction of rice areas in 2018 comes in light of the looming water crisis that Egypt is bracing itself for. Troubled by the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Egyptian government intensified efforts to ration water consumption by reducing water-intensive crops.
The MP said that not only reduction of the area of rice cultivation is on the agenda of the ministry, but there are more ways to reduce water consumption or waste, such as planting strategic water-saving crops.
Parliament’s agriculture committee representative Raef Tamraz said that the Ministry of Agriculture specified an estimated 400,000 feddans for rice cultivation which will irrigated using agricultural drainage system this season.
Tamraz added that there are 350,000 feddans, divided over different governorates, that will be irrigated with Nile water.
“There will be no crisis in the rice crop and this area is enough to achieve self-sufficiency for Egypt, and the government will not leave prices to increase and will intervene,” said Tamraz.
A member of parliament, who requested anonymity, said, “the government has already tried to intervene, attempting to buy rice from traders in order not to increase prices during the time of former minister of supply Mohamed El-Salihi, but traders refused to provide rice at the price requested by the government despite them giving a higher profit margin.”
The member expected that the price of a kilogram of rice will increase from EGP 12 before June, in light of the collection and storage operations carried out by large traders.
Mustafa El-Nagary, head of the rice division of the Agriculture Export Council, identified the measures that will be taken to ensure the provision of rice after the decision of the Ministry of Irrigation to reduce its areas of cultivation starting next season
The Ministry of Irrigation announced the reduction of rice cultivation areas starting from the next season from 1.1m feddans to 724,000 feddans.
El-Nagary explained that the high prices of rice currently are due to the lack of funds at the ministry during the current season and the adoption of the provision of the need for monthly supplies from the private sector
He expects a rise in the price of white rice before next Ramadan to the price of a kilogram being between EGP 8 and EGP 10, versus between EGP 6.5 and EGP 7.5 at the moment
For his part, Mustafa Al-Silaitisi, deputy head of the rice division, said that the market did not accept the increases in the price of barley rice, which reached EGP 5,000 per tonne of the wide variety recently, pointing to the decline in prices to record EGP 4,900 per tonne for the wide and EGP 4,750 per tonne for the slim grain, compared to EGP 4,850 not long prior. Meanwhile, white rice prices currently range between EGP 6,800 and EGP 7,300 per tonne.