CAIRO, March 19 Egypt is considering buying
Indian wheat as a way to diversify its sources, an Egyptian
minister told an Indian newspaper, as the top global importer
seeks to ensure supply through an economic crisis.
Changes to Egypt's food safety law could make it easier for
exporters to work with it, Investment Minister Osama Saleh told
The Hindu Business Line in an interview published on its website
"Yes, we are definitely looking at India as an importing
country for wheat. We want to have several diversified sources
and not just the EU or the U.S. or Canada," he said.
He said Egypt's Food Safety Measures law was being amended
and would give more flexibility to exporters.
"Issues of quality control apply to both wheat and meat. So
it should help exporters of both commodities," he said on a
visit to India as part of a trade delegation travelling with
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.
Indian wheat is generally lower in quality than European and
North American produce and more comparable to locally-grown
Egyptian wheat which requires blending with imports for use in
Egypt relies heavily on imports to feed its 84 million
people; last year around half of the wheat they consumed was
Its strategic stocks of wheat have fallen to 2.207 million
tonnes, enough to last 89 days, a cabinet report said last week.
Economic turmoil has made it harder to arrange payments for
wheat imports. The pace of purchases has tumbled since the start
of the year.
While stocks have fallen, the government also raised its
projection of the local harvest. The agriculture minister on
Monday forecast domestic wheat production of 9.475 million
tonnes this season.
India, the world's second largest producer, plans to export
record volumes of wheat this year. Grain stocks have already
surpassed its secure storage capacity of 47 million tonnes,
risking damage from pests and weather. Another bumper harvest of
some 92 million tonnes is on the way.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by William Hardy)