By Shady Roshdy
Benha, Egypt, Jun 2 (EFE).- In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Egypt has been forced to turn to local wheat harvest to reduce its dependence on overseas purchases of the vital grain over the coming years.
The harvest season in Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, started in April and will run through the end of June, coloring in yellow the landscape in Benha, the capital of the Nile Delta city of Qalyubia.
But this year is different.
Wheat cultivation has increased as a result of the Egyptian government’s measures to alleviate the food crisis brought on by the Russian onslaught on its neighbor, countries that once supplied up to 80% of Egypt’s wheat.
Mohamed Awadalla, director of Benha grain silo, tells Efe that the local harvest this season will last until the end of the year.
“This year, a harvest of around 6 million tons is expected due to the expansion of agricultural land” from 1.37 million hectares to 1.5 million hectares, says Awadalla.
Most farmers have preferred wheat to other crops this year after the government announced that the purchase prices will increase, he adds.
The Egyptian government will pay farmers 885 Egyptian pounds ($47.40) per 150 kilograms of wheat, almost 23% more than last year, according to Awadalla.
He explains that traditional wheat warehouses should be used because the planned production exceeds the government silos that have a storage capacity of 3.2 million tons each, with over 44 plants across the country’s 27 governorates.
In Egypt, the state buys the entire wheat harvest from producers to cover its subsidized bread, which is sold at 5 piasters.
Omar Hadi Yahia, a landowner in Qalyubia, tells Efe that farmers were encouraged this season to grow wheat instead of onions or peas after the state increased prices.
“Wheat production in the Delta’s fertile area increased this year,” Yahia says.
The delay in the summer season helped “a lot to improve production and reduce losses,” Yahia stresses.
Despite these expectations, Egypt still depends on cereal shipments from abroad and is currently looking for new suppliers in India and Europe.EFE