Friday, April 19, 2013

Egypt faces food crisis over wheat shortage

Seed Daily via UPI: The Egyptian government is gambling that this year's domestic wheat crop will produce 9.5 million tons, a prediction widely seen as dangerously over-optimistic as the world's most populous Arab state is wracked by growing political crisis.

Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, is facing critical food shortages that are certain to worsen the political turmoil if not checked. The country's foreign currency reserves are seriously depleted after two years of economic upheaval following the downfall of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Some estimates say reserves have slumped 63 percent -- from $30 billion to $13.4 billion -- since Mubarak was forced to step down. That means Cairo doesn't have the funds to buy wheat, the main food staple for the country's 84 million people.

Bread is heavily subsidized, selling for less than 1 cent a loaf. If the subsidy is reduced, the social discontent would be potentially disastrous in the current unrest....

A wheat field in the Nile Valley, shot by Wilhelms, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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