Govt struggles to maintain food reserves

Egypt has 2.467 million tons of wheat in its reserves, enough to meet local demand for 101 days, the Cabinet said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The statement also said that the country has contracted for an extra 643,000 tons that could cover the country for 25 additional days.

Once a primary wheat provider for the Roman Empire, the country now must import more than half of its wheat needs, which total 18.8 million tons.

The US Department of Agriculture estimates that Egypt will import 9 million tons during the 2012-2013 period.

The government is also struggling to secure enough foreign currency to import food as foreign reserves have dropped from US$36 billion before the 2011 revolution to $13.6 billion as of January 2013.

Millions of residents rely on the subsidized, five-piaster bread as a staple, and the state budget allocates nearly LE21 billion for the subsidies.

Local rice reserves stand at 132,000 tons, in addition to those that are being contracted for import, which is enough to last until April 2013. Egypt is a net rice exporter.

Aggregate sugar reserves stand at 269,000, sufficient for just over two months. The Cabinet says it expects millions more tons to be locally produced, meeting demand until October 2013.

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