Egypt rice prices surge as traders hoard stocks

Egypt rice prices surge as traders hoard stocks
After government failure to stockpile rice, poor Egyptians have been left at the mercy of traders who have jacked up the price of the staple food and hoarded grains.
2 min read
04 March, 2016
Rice is unaffordable for many poor Egyptians despite a surplus in this year's harvest [AFP]
Despite a surplus in production, poor Egyptians are struggling to afford the rising cost of rice

It comes after the price Cairo pays for the grain has risen by around 50 percent in the last two months due to a combination of unscrupulous traders and inefficient government.

This hike in price has largely been engineered by traders who are unwilling to part with their stocks as prices continue to surge.

According to Reuters, the head of the rice committee of Egypt's agricultural export council has blamed the Egyptian government for not stockpiling the grain after failing to follow the council's recommendations.

"One of our vital recommendations to the government before opening the door for rice exports in October was for it to stock up on around half a million tonnes," Naggari said.

"But that didn't happen and hence we find ourselves in the situation we are in today."

According to Naggari, previous governments in Egypt had stockpiled around 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes of rice, but supplies minister Khaled Hanafi had refused to purchase reserves.

He also estimated that the country had a surplus of around 1 million tonnes of rice, with more than enough of the grain to satisfy the nation's annual consumption of 3.3 million tonnes.

This week, the government has vowed to impose penalties on traders found to be hoarding supplies, the director of an Egyptian rice supplier has said.

The limited availability of rice for Egypt's poorest comes as imported commodities are also in short supply in the country, including cooking oil.

This is due to a dollar shortage that has prevented state importers from securing regular supplies.