The Supply Ministry’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) announced a major wheat shipment of 400,000 tonnes from the US, France and Romania last January, enough to cover wheat inventories until June 2013.
The first auction was delivered late January, while the second is expected to arrive mid-February. Local production is also expected to increase, and will cover an additional five months.
“The recent wheat shipments should last until 30June,” said Abdel Ghaffar El-Salamony president of foods division to Daily News Egypt.
“The local production of wheat is expected to increase in May by around 300,000 tonnes, so this shall cover the end of the year,” he continued.
Egypt, which is a major importer of wheat, recorded a 3.3 million tonnes in 2012/13.
Bakery owner Abdullah Gad who runs his own shop in Giza said that the main problem is not necessarily the wheat quantities or the amount of bread available, but, instead, “the quality [of the wheat] that never seems to improve.”
“I’m losing customers on a daily basis because the bread I provide is of poor quality,” Gad said. “But I have to sell anyway; what can I do?”
Several bakery owners like Gad have been running a tight ship because of the same problem.
Another major struggle for the government is to keep buying wheat in the face of the lack of foreign currency the country is experiencing, after the Egyptian pound recently slumped against the US Dollar.
The government’s foreign reserves have dropped significantly from $36bn dollars since the start of the revolution to $13.6bn in January 2013.
Due to this lack of foreign currency, the government has had to cut down on wheat imports during the first half of the fiscal year 2013/2013.
“It’s really difficult to find a substitute for bread given the terrible economic conditions these days. The solution is to maintain purchasing enough stocks for those who live hand-to-mouth,” said El-Salamony.
He stressed, however, that efforts have been made by the government to provide enough wheat necessary for the production of bread.
Egypt’s adviser to the Supply Ministry, Nomani Nomani, told Reuters that Egypt’s banks are now saving dollars in order to continue importing wheat amid the country’s political turmoil and economic instability.