Cut off from key imports, Egypt scours for wheat

STORY: At this storage depot, truck after truck is offloading grain from the surrounding Nile Delta.

It's one part of Egypt’s desperate hunt for supplies, after the country was cut off from imports from Russia and Ukraine.

Now officials are straining to extract every ounce they can from a local harvest.

Silo worker Ahmed Nasser says everyone is doing their bit:

"This year we could not discard large amounts of wheat with moisture or full of impurities. This year, we are storing large amounts of wheat in silos. We are supposed to leave at 4pm. But this year especially, we sometimes work until midnight and some trucks stay past midnight. They stay overnight.”

Egypt is often the world’s largest importer of wheat.

Most would normally come from Russia and Ukraine.

Now the government has set a target to collect six million tonnes from domestic producers - that’s two-thirds more than last year.

After a slow start, officials say the harvest is going well.

Farmers may have more mixed feelings.

They are forced to sell at least 60% of their crop to the state, up from 40%, and can face fines or even jail if they don’t comply.

The government has raised its price for the grain to compensate, but some say not enough.

It’s still well below international market prices, with farmers also battling rising costs for labor and fertilizer.

Ahmed Samir grows wheat north of Cairo:

"There is an improvement, but this is what the government can offer. What can we do? We are trying to help.”

Farmers do say that selling to the government is convenient and assured.

But with market prices so far above official prices, Cairo may find it hard to keep all its wheat out of traders' hands.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting