CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt will end local wheat buying on Wednesday, earlier than usual, due to exceeding its target of 4 million tonnes, the supplies ministry said on Saturday.
“Supplies Minister Khaled Hanafi pointed out that the door for receiving local wheat from farmers will close at the end of Wednesday due to lowering local procurement rates,” the ministry said in a statement.
Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, has bought 4.8 million tonnes of domestic wheat since the start of the season on April 15. Egypt’s wheat harvest begins in April and normally runs through July.
Last year, the government said it bought a record 5.3 million tonnes of the grain, up from 3.7 million the year before.
The ministry said on Saturday it had spent 14.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.6 billion) this year as part of a subsidy for farmers, who are being paid a fixed price of 420 Egyptian pounds ($47.30) per ardeb (150 kg) of wheat after Egypt abandoned plans to pay farmers global market rates this year.
The higher fixed price, well above global rates, is meant to encourage farmers to grow wheat but has led to smuggling involving the sale of cheaper imported wheat to the government falsely labelled as Egyptian.
($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)
Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Mark Potter