Egypt: Sanctioning farmers collect no more than 4.2 million tons of wheat

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The Egyptian government failed to manage its wheat target despite obligating farmers to deliver it. According to official statements, the quantities supplied to government silos and barns until the end of the wheat season on August 31 reached only 4.2 million tons, while the government aspired to collect 6 million tons. The governmental failure came despite imposing severe penalties on farmers who violated the decision to hand over wheat. The penalties included fines, imprisonment, crop confiscation, deprivation of government-subsidized fertilizers, and denial of obtaining support from the Agricultural Bank of Egypt. Many farmers refused to hand over their crops despite intimidation due to the lack of a fair price. According to the farmers, the government offered 5900 pounds per ton, while the global price reached 8,000 pounds.

The government’s erroneous estimates extended to the volume of local wheat production during the current year, as the Ministry of Agriculture had previously announced that production this year would reach 10 million tons, while production at the end of the season was only 8.4 million tons, which is less than the volume of production in 2020, which amounted to 9.1 million tons, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. The government has not explained this dramatic drop in yield. Despite failing to achieve the goals, the government continues to promote lies and sell illusions to the people. The Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, Ali Moselhi, announced that the new agricultural areas in the Toshka and Mostakbal Egypt projects would provide 2 million tons of wheat the following year, a false allegation.

The wheat crop areas in the Mostakbal Egypt project are only 40 thousand acres, while the total area reclaimed in the Toshka project is only 230 thousand acres. Assuming that all these lands are cultivated with wheat, we have 270 thousand acres, enough to produce 810 thousand tons at most, which is Less than half of the target announced by the Minister of Supply. The government is trying to reproduce its failure with another crop, as the Ministry of Supply issued a decision obligating farmers, for the first time, to hand over a ton of rice for every acre (about 25% of an acre’s production), with penalties imposed on those who abstain from delivery, to collect one and a half million tons this season, to achieve self-sufficiency and secure the needs of ration cards of rice.

Refusal to deliver is a supply violation punishable by preventing rice cultivation next season, depriving subsidized fertilizers and pesticides for all crops for a year, and paying ten thousand pounds for the ton that did not deliver. Farmers and specialists expected that the ministry would fail to collect its target rice in light of the low price it had set for purchase against current market prices. The ministry priced broad-grain barley rice at 6,850 pounds per ton and fine-grained rice at 6,600 pounds. At the same time, the average global cost of rice and barley this month is about 7,000 pounds, according to food price indices from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Farmer Mohamed El-Gohary describes the ministry’s policies in dealing with the provision of strategic goods as random, considering that the state, with all its relevant ministries, must encourage farmers to continue planting strategic crops by supporting them financially and technically and not intimidating and threatening them, especially since it is an unjustified threat. The constitutionality of the ministry obligates farmers to sell their crops at a compulsory price, as long as they did not contract to do so before the beginning of the season.