Despite the Egyptian government’s reliance on many sources to import wheat, Russia and Ukraine’s control of about 80% of imports has created a state of anxiety over wheat reserves if the Russian-Ukrainian crisis continues for a long time, so what are the limits of the crisis?
Egypt consumes about 22 million tons of wheat annually, of which it produces 10 million tons, and imports nearly 12 million tons, according to estimates by the Ministry of Supply.
A government source told “Capital” that the wheat crisis will not be felt for most of the months of this year, especially since the wheat reserve is sufficient for a minimum of 4 months, but the local wheat harvest season starts from mid-April until mid-July, which means that wheat will suffice until the end of the year .
He added that the government has scenarios to compensate for any shortage in supplies of Russian and Ukrainian wheat through alternative markets, including Romania, France, America and Germany.
According to the source, the four markets comply with the Egyptian specifications for importing wheat, especially with regard to the degree of humidity.
The source pointed out that Egypt’s dependence on Russian and Ukrainian wheat mainly did not prevent it from diversifying import origins through about 8 alternative markets as a precaution against any future risks.
According to the source, Egypt imports 20% of its wheat imports from Romania, Australia, France, Lithuania, Maldives, Canada, China and South Korea.
He pointed out that Egypt worked in the last period to amend the specifications of importing wheat from France in order to diversify the sources of wheat.
He explained: The humidity level in the Egyptian specifications was adjusted to 13.5% so that French companies could participate in the tenders, but another problem remained in the increase in imports from France, which is the high shipping costs.
Alaa Ezz, Secretary-General of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said that Egypt possesses a strategic reserve of wheat sufficient with local production (which will start supplying next April) until the end of the year.
Ezz expected that Egypt would not be affected greatly by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, especially that the sanctions imposed on Russia would not prevent it from supplying wheat to Egypt.
He added: “The European Union and America imposed previous sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea, and Egypt’s imports from it were not affected.”
According to Ezz, wheat imports from Ukraine to Egypt will be affected temporarily due to the closure of the ports, but this effect will not be significant due to the availability of reserves and local production until the end of the year, in addition to the impossibility of continuing the war for a whole year.
The Secretary of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce believes that Egypt will not face any problems in wheat imports, especially with the availability of multiple sources of import.
Dr. Alia Al-Mahdi, former dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, said that Russia and Ukraine are the first two countries that Egypt relies on to import wheat, and with the outbreak of war between the two countries, supplies will certainly be affected and global wheat prices will rise.
Al-Mahdi clarified that Egypt has sufficient self-reserves to cover its wheat requirements until the end of this year, but the continuation of the war will have negative repercussions on Egypt, and therefore it is necessary to search for alternative markets for import.