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Egypt deal for Indian wheat stands, but not shipped yet - Minister

Farmers harvest wheat to increase local wheat production in order to fill the wheat shortage in the country in Al Minufiyah, one of the important grain production centers of Egypt on May 14, 2022 [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]
Farmers harvest wheat in Egypt on 14 May 2022 [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt's Supply Minister said on Monday that an agreement to buy wheat from India still stood despite recent curbs on Indian exports, although it is unclear when the grain will be shipped, Reuters reports.

Egypt, one of the world's biggest wheat importers, has sought to diversify its suppliers since facing higher global prices and disruptions to purchases from the Black Sea after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Supply Minister, Aly Moselhy, said in June that Egypt had contracted to buy 180,000 tonnes of wheat from India, after initially agreeing to purchase 500,000 tonnes.

"We have an agreement on quantity and price – 180,000 tonnes of wheat, and price was $400 per tonne," Moselhy told reporters on Monday, disclosing the price for the first time. The wheat had not yet left India, he added, however.

India, the world's second biggest producer of wheat, banned private overseas sales of the grain on 14 May, but made allowances for countries like Egypt with food security needs.

A scorching heat wave has curtailed India's output this year.

READ: Cut off from Black Sea wheat imports, Egypt leans on local harvest

"You know about the strong heat wave that happened in India and that affected next year's harvest, so it's natural that they would want to keep their own supply. It's their right," said Moselhy. "But to be honest, our cargo is at the port."

In an effort to boost its strategic wheat reserves, Egypt's government has bought around 1.8 million tonnes of wheat since the start of the current fiscal year, Moselhy said, making big purchases from countries including France and Russia since the Indian deal was announced.

Moselhy said Egypt's strategic wheat reserves currently stand at around seven months.

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