Thursday, July 18, 2013

Egypt in turmoil faces looming food crisis

Terra Daily via UPI: Egypt faces severe food shortages in the months ahead and its military rulers are pinning their hopes on a bumper wheat crop to see the country through.

There are fears that even if the home-grown harvest is up to expectations and produces the 9.5 million metric tons officials predict, that won't be enough to feed the country's 84 million people.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the upcoming crop will total 8.7 million tones, 10 percent lower than the Egyptians forecast, and warned several "knowledgeable interlocutors" expect the crop to produce only 6 million to 7 million metric tons.

Bassem Ouda, the minister of supplies in the government of President Mohamed Morsi -- who was ousted by the army July 3 -- admitted last week the state has less than two months' supply of imported wheat in stock, or about 500,000 metric tons.

The government has 3 million metric tons of Egyptian wheat from the spring harvest, which could last until October at current rates of consumption. But because of growing financial problems and difficulties accessing foreign currency as the political crisis deepens, Egypt's access to foreign wheat is dwindling.

That means bread shortages, and with about 40 percent of the population living below the poverty line -- subsisting on heavily subsidized bread that sells at the equivalent of 1 U.S. cent a loaf -- that could trigger widespread social unrest....

Pompeii’s Pillar in Alexandria, Egypt, built in 297 CE, in honor of Emperor Diocletian. He brought wheat to the country during a time of famine. The pillar is set on a stone base 25 feet square and 15 feet high. Alexandria, Egypt. Shot by Dennis Jarvis, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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