Egypt's wheat supply sufficient to last until March 5 - minister

CAIRO Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:00pm GMT

A worker is seen at a wheat store after the harvest at Damanhour city in Al Beheira, governorate, about 135 km (84 miles) north of Cairo May 4, 2013. Picture taken May 4, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A worker is seen at a wheat store after the harvest at Damanhour city in Al Beheira, governorate, about 135 km (84 miles) north of Cairo May 4, 2013. Picture taken May 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's wheat supply is sufficient to last the country until March 5, the supplies minister said on Saturday.

Mohamed Abu Shadi said in comments published by the state news agency MENA that Egypt had imported 2.3 million tonnes of wheat during the "last period", without specifying a time frame for those purchases.

Egypt's wheat storage capacity will reach 3 million tonnes once the construction of 100 government-built silos is complete, Abu Shadi said.

Egypt, the world's largest importer of wheat, needs huge quantities of wheat to make flour for its bread subsidy programme.

The main government wheat buying entity's most recent wheat purchase was on Thursday, when it bought 240,000 tonnes of Romanian and French wheat for shipment December 1-15.

The minister told Reuters in an interview shortly after the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July and installed an interim government that the biggest mistake Mursi made was dramatically reducing wheat imports.

Shadi told Reuters last month his government would increase stocks to last until the end of March.

Since Mursi's ousting, the government has made 11 tenders. Prior to his departure, Mursi's government had only made one tender this year, betting on a higher domestic crop.

However, industry experts said the policy left the country at least 900,000 tonnes short of the wheat needed for its subsidy programme.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Alison Williams)

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