Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Egypt introduces measures to save money on wheat subsidies

25 April 2014, 10:29

Cairo - Egypt will try to save half the money it spends on wheat subsidies by issuing a new smart card system to ensure that the cheap bread goes to only the neediest.

Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat and the country's supply is subject to price changes on the international market. Unrest in Ukraine has pushed up wheat prices worldwide in recent months.

Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy said in an interview this week with The Associated Press that the new cards will help the government prevent citizens from buying in bulk and save roughly 11 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.6 billion), half of what it spends on bread subsidies yearly.

Farmers began harvesting the annual wheat crop this week, and the staple forms the basis for the country's subsidized flat bread — a staple of the Egyptian diet. This year's harvest comes as the country starts to reform its decades-old food subsidy policies with the electronic smart card system. Last month, the government piloted the program in Port Said.

Subsidized bread remains a lifeline for many Egyptians, amid a roughly 10 percent yearly rate of inflation in food prices. But the subsidy policy has become an increasingly heavy burden on the state budget.

The crop has also become mired in politics due to its importance to Egypt's poorer classes. In 2008, shortages in subsidized bread led to fights that killed eight people. In 1977, an attempt to end such subsidies led to riots that required army intervention.

State-run bakeries sell bread from 5 piasters (0.7 cents) per piece to 50 piasters (7.1 cents). In private owned-bakeries, the cheapest bread is 25 piasters (3.5 cents).

Increasing Egypt's wheat cultivation is an unrealistic expectation, Hanafy said. He said that Egypt will continue to rely on foreign sources.

"I don't believe that we are targeting self-sufficiency with wheat," he told the AP while giving a tour of one of the country's golden wheat fields as it was being harvested. "I don't believe economically that this is a desired objective."

He said Egypt's precious arable land is needed for other crops, and it would be inefficient to use it solely for wheat.

"There is an opportunity cost," he said.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

- AP

Tags egypt

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...