* GASC gathered 3.2 mln t local wheat by May 29
* Egypt will study Oregon GM wheat find (Adds detail, background)
By Shaimaa Fayed
CAIRO, May 30 (Reuters) - Egypt’s state wheat buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), said on Thursday it had at least five months’ worth of wheat stocks and expected an additional two months’ supply once the local harvest season ends.
GASC had gathered 3.2 million tonnes of local wheat up until May 29, Mamdouh Abdel Fattah, GASC’s vice chairman told Reuters. That marked a dramatic jump from the 996,000 tonnes gathered by May 9.
While local wheat purchases boosted the country’s stocks, imports for Egypt, which purchases roughly half of its wheat needs from the world market to blend with local grain for subsidised bread, fell short of expectations in 2012/13.
Two years of political turmoil and economic crisis has eroded Egypt’s hard currency reserves, making it difficult for the world’s biggest wheat importer to obtain staple goods.
GASC said in October it would import 4.8 tonnes of wheat in the 2012/13 fiscal year, but so far has purchased 3.375 million tonnes.
The government hopes to partly make up for the shortfall in imports by purchasing around 4.5 million tonnes of local crop which started harvest in April, up from an average target of around 2.4-3.7 million tonnes in previous years.
However, traders say the target would be unrealistic even in good times, much less in a crisis when farmers are short of fuel, equipment and spare parts. [ID: nL6N0DX3CQ]
Wheat importing countries are awaiting further detail on unapproved genetically modified wheat found growing on a farm in Oregon in the United States.
Asked about the unapproved GM wheat, Abdel Fattah said: “Until now we have no fears. But we will study the Oregon wheat matter and see what the latest developments on it are.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, no GM wheat varieties are approved for general planting in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Egypt’s GASC last purchased U.S. wheat in a February tender.
Major importer Japan has canceled a tender offer to buy U.S. western white wheat, while other top Asian wheat importers South Korea, China and the Philippines said they were closely monitoring the situation. (Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed and Sarah McFarlane; editing by Keiron Henderson and Veronica Brown)