Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, is aiming for 70 percent self-sufficiency in wheat by 2020 as it plants new strains with higher yields, local papers quoted a government minister as saying.
“Egypt has clear plans and programmes where self-sufficiency in wheat is concerned, the most important of which is achieving 70 percent self-sufficiency by 2020,” the daily Al-Alam Al-Youm quoted Agricultural Minister Amin Abaza as saying.
Al-Alam Al-Youm cited Abaza as saying Egypt will expand the area on which it will grow new strains of high-quality, high-yield wheat.
The country consumes around 14 million tonnes of wheat annually and relies on foreign supplies for about half of its requirement. Hefty state subsidies keep bread affordable in Egypt, where one fifth of the population lives on less than $1 per day according to UN figures.
A decision by Russia to ban wheat exports sent world prices soaring last week. Egypt’s trade ministry said the higher prices would cost the state between 2.5 and 4 billion Egyptian pounds ($441-$705 million) in the current fiscal year.