Egypt will import 300,000 tonnes of rice during the 2018/2019 rice planting season, according to a recent report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Moreover, it forecasts that Egypt’s rice production will drop this year by 15% to reach 2.8m tonnes, instead of the USDA`s previous forecast of 3.3m tonnes.
Notably, the Egyptian government has taken measures, and enacted legislation to reduce cultivated areas of water-intensive crops such as rice, in order to conserve vital River Nile resources, as Ethiopia prepares to fill the reservoir behind a colossal dam which it is building upstream.
In January, Egypt decided to reduce the rice cultivation area from 1,100m feddans to 724,000 feddans.
Then in May, the government agreed to increase the area allocated for rice cultivation by 100,000 feddans only during this season, bringing the total area of rice cultivation to 824,000 feddans,
In June, Egypt announced that it would begin importing rice, but the quantities were not declared.
For his part, Mostafa Al-Najari, member of the grain division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce and chairperson of the Rice Committee of the Agriculture Export Council, stated to Daily News Egypt earlier, that he expects Egypt to import 400,000 tonnes of rice in the period from August 2018 to August 2019.
On the other hand, Vice President of the rice division, in the Chamber of Grain Industry, in the Federation Of Egyptian Industries Mostafa Al-Saltisi, told DNE that importing rice threatens the local market in Egypt.
He noted that Egypt’s main problem in importing rice is that the quality of the other countries’ rice is inferior to Egypt’s rice quality.
He elaborated that the decision of reducing the area of rice cultivation is one of the most dangerous decisions that Egypt took, explaining that Egypt’s main agricultural crops are grain and rice, defining the decision as 100% wrong.
On the other hand, the USDA expects that Egypt’s wheat imports during the current fiscal year (FY) 2018/2019, will increase by 1.62%, to reach 12.5m tonnes instead of 12.3m tonnes.
Meanwhile, it predicts that the local production of wheat would remain stable at 8.45m tonnes this year.
Notably, the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Aly Meselhi, indicated last April that Egypt aims to import 6m tonnes of wheat in the FY 2018/2019.