March 14, 2017 / 11:24 AM / in 8 months

Egypt to restrict wheat storage in bid to curb smuggling

CAIRO, March 14 (Reuters) - Egypt will minimise the use of private sector silos in this year’s wheat harvest, the supply ministry said on Tuesday, part of new regulations aimed at curbing fraud in local procurement.

Grain industry experts and lawmakers who led an investigation into fraud last year have said upward of 2 million tonnes of Egypt’s reported 5 million tonnes of wheat may have existed only on paper.

Last year the practice of using private sector silos, where wheat levels were believed to be exaggerated, was widespread.

The ministry said it would aim to use all of its more than 4.2 million tonnes of storage capacity before resorting to additional space from the private sector.

Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said last week that Egypt expected to buy about 4.5 million tonnes from local farmers this year and the procurement season will run from April 15 to July 15.

As part of reforms aimed at curtailing fraud, Egypt said earlier this year it would end the practice of allowing wheat storage in open air silos and appoint a company to conduct inspections to guarantee the quantities stored are not exaggerated. (Reporting by Ehab Farouk and Eric Knecht, editing by Louise Heavens)

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