Egypt Watch

Governmental attempt to buy the wheat crop at cheap prices rages farmers

The Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade issued a decree obligating farmers to hand over the wheat crop for the current season. Also, the decision prohibited the transfer of wheat without a permit from the government and prohibited the sale of quantities that exceed the required minimum without a permit from the ministry that specifies the quantities, purposes and storage location.

According to the decision, any farmer who does not commit to delivering the minimum amount of wheat will be punished by deprivation of the subsidized fertilizer scheduled for him or her in the summer season, and any support from the Agricultural Bank, while anyone who sells his or her production to any party other than the government will be punished with imprisonment.

The head of the Peasants’ Syndicate, Hussein Abu Saddam, described the decision as futile, explaining that it would not work as the government expected because the minimum required, 12 yards, was illogical. The Council of Ministers said that it will disburse an additional incentive to purchase local wheat from farmers, amounting to 65 pounds per yard, in an attempt to raise the amount of wheat supplied to the government. As a result, the price will rise to about 5,800 pounds per ton – but it will still be lower than the international price, which exceeded 8,000 pounds.

A number of farmers said that they would not hand over their crop to the government, preferring to keep it for domestic consumption or use it as animal feed in light of the high prices of fodder. Abu Saddam indicated that forcing farmers to sell wheat at a price lower than the international price would force them to refrain from planting it next year. According to one of the farmers, the government will not be able to force the farmers to hand over the wheat, noting that the farmers have a parallel market that the government knows nothing about.