Cairo - Egypt has signed 186,000 contracts to buy 4.25 million tonnes of wheat from local farmers, the Agriculture Minister said on Monday, which if procured could help the world's largest wheat importer trim its foreign bill.
Egypt seeks to buy more of the domestic crop to reduce its reliance on international markets for the commodity needed to produce bread, its main staple.
If the amount agreed in the contracts is delivered, it would be a 25 percent increase from the 3.4 million tonnes of wheat the government bought from farmers last year, Minister Ayman Abou Hadid was quoted by state news agency MENA as saying.
Private traders surveyed in a Reuters poll this month expected government purchases from the local harvest at no more than 3.7 million tonnes.
The amount of wheat that the government ends up buying locally often falls short of its forecasts, however.
State procurement from the local harvest began last week and runs through June. Some farmers in the country's Nile Delta region have not yet begun harvesting their crop.
Hadid also said that government was predicting a productivity rate of 2.85 tonnes per feddan (0.42 hectares).
Hadid had told Reuters in an interview in November that Egypt was targeting an increase in productivity per feddan to 3-3.2 tonnes, without specifying the timeframe to achieve this.
Some 3.2 million feddans (1.34 million hectares) of land has been planted with wheat this year, according to a state newspaper article on Sunday that cited a government report.
Source: Reuters Via Yahoo news
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