May 17, 2014 / 7:28 AM / 5 years ago

Egypt buys 2.5 mln tonnes of local wheat- state media

A farmer harvests wheat on a field in the El-Menoufia governorate, about 9.94 km (58 miles) north of Cairo April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, 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, state media reported on Saturday.

The price paid to local farmers per Egyptian ardeb, the equivalent of around 150 kg, has been 420 Egyptian pounds ($59.53), Supplies Minister Khaled Hanafi was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper Al Gomhuriya.

Last year the government raised the fixed price per ardeb to 420 pounds from 400 pounds, aiming to encourage farmers to grow more. The local price exceeds the price Egypt pays in the international market by more than $100 per tonne.

Egypt wants to boost domestic production in an effort to cut its import bill. Each year the state and private buyers purchase around 10 million tonnes from abroad. Egypt estimates its total local wheat crop this year at around 9 million tonnes, of which the government is aiming to buy 4 million.

On May 14, the supplies minister said Egypt had bought around 2 million tonnes of local wheat.

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