President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed to open rice imports into Egypt following a proposal raised by the Ministry of Supply to save up strategic stocks of rice.
The decision comes during a meeting on Monday along with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and Ali al-Meselhi, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, who discussed several topics alongside this proposal.
Sisi assigned the General Authority For Supply Commodities (GASC) which manages Egypt’s grain purchases to promote rice in the coming year with better prices in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Earlier this year, Sisi ratified new amendments to the Agriculture Law No. 53 of 1966, where the government will set areas to cultivate crops which consume water intensively such as rice and sugarcane, in order to effectively conserve water.
The president urged the government to provide measures to control the markets and activate the price control censorship system. He also called on the reinforcement of consumer protection measures to eliminate market monopoly and commercial fraud.
The official spokesman of the presidency office said that Minister of Supply Al-Meselhi reviewed measures that have been taken by the ministry to implement it’s strategy’s objectives, shedding light on the efforts exerted to provide essential commodities in Ministry of Supply owned markets across the country in lower prices than other outlets.
Meselhi pointed out the increasing number of distribution outlets and sales chains to raise the supply of products.
Hamed Abdel-Dayem, spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said that the president’s decision to open doors for rice imports will storm monopolists in the local markets.
Dayem added that the area allocated for rice cultivation this year is 824 thousand feddans (unit of area), which is sufficient for domestic consumption. He stressed that Sisi’s decision will help all rice traders work at full capacity and will maintain the stability of rice prices in the Egyptian markets.
He also said that the ministry is attempting to develop new varieties of rice that consume less water and are of higher quality.
A rice crisis has hammered the Egyptian market since the last months of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, when the rice bags started to disappear gradually from the shelves at the consumer complexes and at the government supply chains.
The Ministry of Irrigation announced its decision to reduce the area of cultivated rice from 1.1 million feddans to 724 thousand due to shortage of water.
It was also reported that certain suppliers had refrained from offering rice in order to sell it at a higher price in private markets.
Meselhi earlier denied any issues, stating that the current quantities of rice were sufficient to meet the needs of the country until December, and the area of race last year amounted to 1.8 million feddans with an average production of about 3.8 million tons, compared to a consumption of 2.5 million tons.
However in a TV interview Meselhi said that the government overcame the rice crisis and provided enough stock for the coming months, stating that the rice shortfall was one of the country’s biggest dilemmas since he came into power.