Egypt’s Wheat and Corn Dynamics: Understanding the Season’s Imports and Forecasts

Egypt's Wheat and Corn Dynamics
In this Monday, May 13, 2013 photo, Rida Ibrahim, a 62-year-old Egyptian farmer, harvest wheat on his farm, in Qalubiyah, North Cairo, Egypt. Bread is perhaps the most volatile issue amid mounting economic concerns as Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi nears the end of the first year in office. In recent months, Egypt has faced fuel shortages, water and electricity cuts and rising food prices, at a time of intense political polarization between Morsi and his Islamist supporters and the mainly secular and liberal opposition. In a country where at least 40 percent of the population of 90 million lives near or below the poverty line, millions rely on cheap bread subsidized by the government. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Egypt’s Wheat and Corn Dynamics:

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) predicts that Egypt’s agricultural landscape will change significantly this season. Forecasts indicate a substantial surge in wheat imports, expected to reach a staggering 12 million tons.

This reflects a notable 6.9% increase from the previous season, highlighting the country’s evolving dependency on external sources for this staple grain.

The pivotal factor driving this surge in wheat imports is the notable decline in domestic wheat production. A deliberate reduction in the wheat cultivation area, now resting at 1.35 million hectares compared to the previous 1.45 million hectares, indicates a strategic shift towards prioritizing crops like Alexandrian clover and sugar beet.

Consequently, this decision has led to a considerable dip in the gross wheat harvest, witnessing a decline to 8.87 million metric tons, a stark 6.6% drop from the preceding season.

Despite this surge in imports, domestic consumption remains significantly high, projected to soar to 20.6 million tons this season, accentuating Egypt’s pivotal role as the world’s largest importer of wheat, commanding a substantial 16% share of the global imports market.

Interestingly, the State Agency of Egypt (GASC) purchases about half of the wheat imported, with the private sector supplying the remaining amount.

However, projections for the 2023–2024 season hint at a marginal decline in GASC’s procurement, expected to range between 5 and 5.5 million tons, marking a slight decrease from the preceding season’s 5.8 million tons.

This anticipated reduction in procurement could have far-reaching implications.

Forecasts also shed light on the expected depletion of wheat stocks, set to plummet to 4 million metric tons by the season’s end, portraying an 11.5% decline compared to the 2022–2023 statistics, underscoring potential challenges in meeting the country’s future wheat demands.

Moreover, the FAS USDA predicts parallel growth in corn imports, projected to escalate by 8% to reach 6.5 million metric tons.

This surge in imports contrasts with a concerning dip in the gross corn harvest, which plummeted by 3.2% to 7.2 million metric tons, despite a marginal increase in the planted area from 930 thousand hectares to 950 thousand hectares.

The decline in corn yields can be attributed to adverse conditions, including heat stress and insect damage, accentuating the vulnerability of Egypt’s corn production.

This anticipated surge in corn imports aligns with an anticipated rise in demand for feed, earmarking a projected 2.2% increase in domestic corn consumption, expected to reach 13.8 million metric tons for the 2023–2024 season.

However, amidst these projections of increased imports, the forecast also highlights a concerning depletion in ending stocks, poised to dwindle to 23.9 million metric tons by the end of the 2023–2024 season, reflecting a notable 6.7% decrease compared to the previous season.

In conclusion, Egypt’s agricultural dynamics stand at a critical juncture, poised between escalating imports and diminishing domestic production, setting the stage for potential challenges in meeting the nation’s burgeoning grain demands.



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