Ears of wheat are seen during sunset in a field of the Solgonskoye farming company in the village of Solgon.
Cairo - Egypt's state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) will continue to import wheat during the local wheat-buying season as it aims to increase its strategic reserves, Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said.

“You can’t stop, you have to continue importing from all origins and form a reserve,” he said.

But he said private sector imports would be banned from April 15 to July 15. The private sector import ban is a government effort to prevent fraud in local procurement.

More than 2 million of Egypt’s reported 5 million tons of wheat last year may have existed only on paper, according to grain industry experts and lawmakers, who investigated the matter.

Mosely has said that Egypt expected to buy about 4.5 million tons of wheat from local farmers this year.

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Yesterday, he said proposed spending on food subsidies in the 2017/18 budget would be 86 billion Egyptian pounds (R59.2 billion), a sharp increase in local currency terms after the pound lost more than half its value in a November floatation.

“Of course there is an increase, if you consider what happens with the dollar and devaluation - we import 60percent of our wheat so we have to allocate that amount,” he said, adding that the food subsidy allocation in the budget was a priority for the government. “Wheat is a must, oil is a must, sugar is a must - we have to fulfil it.”

Moselhy also said there were no plans for changes to the GASC leadership. In previous years, GASC slowed down or stopped its purchase tenders for imported wheat.