CAIRO Feb 24 Egypt's domestic wheat crop is
expected to rise sharply in 2012/2013, a top official said on
Sunday, adding that the state had not cut funds for overall
grains purchases despite a rising budget deficit and falling
foreign currency reserves.
Nomani Nomani, adviser to Egypt's supply minister, told
Reuters that the higher local wheat production was due to
incentives offered to farmers.
Nomani, who until last week was in charge of imports at
state grains supplier GASC, said he expected local wheat to
increase by "at least 500,000 tonnes in 2012/2013, if not more,
raising the amount of local wheat to 4.2 million tonnes".
The Egyptian financial year runs from July to June.
A steady fall in Egypt's foreign currency reserves to $13.6
billon in January from $36 billion before the 2011 revolution
has raised concerns on international commodities markets.
Wheat imports since Jan. 1 have been sharply lower than
levels in the same period last year.
Nomani acknowledged the government's problems but said the
state, which has prioritised food imports, was maintaining its
funding for both domestic and foreign purchases.
"The state has not at any point reduced its payments or
failed to deliver to us financial guarantees," he said, adding
that the government had budgeted 11 billion Egyptian pounds
($1.6 billion) for domestic purchases.
"We have proper planning. We were aware of the conditions
the state is going through and we made a list of factors to rely
on for securing our essential supply of wheat, including
offering attractive incentives and prices to local farmers," he
($1 = 6.7333 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; editing by David Stamp)