CAIRO, May 17 (Reuters) - Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, opened silos with a capacity of 45,000 tonnes in Alexandria as part of a project to make the country a trading hub, state-run news agency MENA reported on Saturday.
Government officials say storage capacity is vital for Egypt to make better use of its domestic wheat production and reduce its need for imports.
The increase in storage capacity is part of a project to become a wheat trading hub for Arab and European countries importing from Russia and the Black Sea region, MENA quoted Supplies Minister Khaled Hanafi as saying.
Egypt has previously announced a building plan that includes 25 silos each with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes and an additional 25, to be built by the United Arab Emirates, with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes each.
Egypt’s former supplies minister said in February the country planned to increase its wheat storage capacity from 1.5 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes by mid-2015.
The government has said that at least 20 percent of the total grain produced locally is wasted due to storage problems.
Farmers in the fertile Nile Delta are often forced to store their harvest in the open air, leaving it exposed to insects, animals and weather.
Egypt has bought 2.5 million tonnes of local wheat since last month, more than half its target this year in a procurement season that lasts until mid-July. (Reporting By Shadia Nasralla)