Faced with the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on world food security, many countries decided to take more decisive measures to protect stocks of strategic goods and food demand.
In Egypt, the Ministry of Trade and Industry decided, today, Thursday, to ban the export of “gravel, ground beans, lentils, wheat and various types of flour, as well as various types of pasta” for a period of three months starting from March 11. .
This was part of the “active decision-making process” in light of the fears of an economic crisis and a wave of inflation that began to affect the market through sharp increases in the prices of commodities and food in the local markets.
Market prices rose sharply, as the price of a ton of wheat in the Egyptian market rose by about a thousand pounds, ranging between 6000 pounds and 6500 pounds, while the price of a ton of pasta increased from about 8000 pounds to 10 thousand pounds before the Ukrainian crisis.
protect food security
Ahmed Shiha, head of the importers department in the former Federation of Chambers of Commerce, believes that “the decision to supply these materials to the Egyptian market is an important and successful decision, especially in light of the crisis of the war in Ukraine and its impact.”
Shiha added in a statement: “The decision was taken in anticipation of the absence of importers due to the current situation, as well as the rise in international prices, which helps to provide goods instead of the high prices of goods.” Noting that those who reject such a decision are those who have no conscience in the midst of the crisis to find gains.
He continued, “The policy of protecting Egypt’s food security has been followed for many years, especially the provision of strategic material reserves, and recently the proportion of wheat, rice, oil, sugar and beans reserves has increased from 3 to 12 months.” He stressed that this strategy will reduce the impact of the Ukrainian war, especially when Egypt has enough to end the year.
As for the current price increase, Shiha believes that it is “made by a group of greedy businessmen,” adding: “Instead of increasing the return by 20%, they double the price to achieve the highest return at the expense of citizens, especially since the goods and costs have not changed, and their prices have not been affected, But what is happening is the result of monopoly.”
He called on the Egyptian government to “strengthen deterrence against all exploiters, because what is happening exceeds all expectations and even affects local goods that Egypt does not primarily import.”
“In order to achieve local food security and price control, these decisions are natural,” said Yomna El-Hamaki, professor of economics at the Faculty of Business Administration at Ain Shams University, noting “if there is an imbalance between supply and demand. The government is the most important and the priority is to stop exports and maintain prices.” At levels that do not rise, especially during the coming month of Ramadan, when the demand for commodities is increasing.”
Al-Hamaky explained that “there is some commodity shortage in the Egyptian market,” and continued: “If we continue to export, the deficit will increase, which is Egypt’s goal. The ban, by increasing the supply to balance it as a percentage of the demand and then the price will decrease after that.”
She pointed out that “the government’s immediate priority is to control the market’s rhythm and reduce the terrible impact of global inflation on the Egyptian market after the Ukrainian war.”
She also noted that “the government’s commitment to food security over the past few years, focus on farming, encouraging farmers, and increasing local ingredients is positive. We are happy with rice and sugar, but we need a comprehensive understanding of oil crops and poultry. Wait for some sections, to balance.”
Hamash pointed out that “Egypt went through a similar situation many times, most notably during the flotation and economic reform plan of the pound sterling 2016, which witnessed a terrible inflation wave that reached 30%, when the government intervened to control prices.”
She stressed that “the Egyptian market is inefficient and will not change except in times of crisis. There are large monopolies in some industries, which unfortunately, despite intensive government efforts, are dealt with in stages. Perhaps the current crisis is one of the lessons to improve market efficiency, and the government has mechanisms in place.”
With the exception of France and Romania, the Arab countries collectively import 60% of their food needs from Russia and Ukraine, but Russia and Ukraine have a special international presence in supplying the Arab world with food; Because their prices are low in both countries.
The data showed that Ukraine, as the fourth largest exporter of wheat and yellow maize in the world, exported only 17% of the amount of maize and barley used in global trade in 2020, and 40% of it to Arab countries, while Russia was the main exporter of wheat to Egypt. . Country.
Even after Cairo started buying wheat from other suppliers, especially Romania, in recent years, it imported 50 percent of its wheat from Russia and 30 percent from Ukraine in 2021.
And regarding the impact of the war and the government’s measures, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a press conference: “The Russian-Ukrainian crisis had a negative and crisis impact on the countries of the world, so its impact was reflected on us. Egypt.”
“But the government has worked hard to diversify import sources of wheat to deal with any crisis, and it has also been able to build a strategic stock of wheat that is sufficient for four months, except that the local crop will be available from mid-April.” he added.
He continued, “One of the measures taken by the state is to ensure the provision of basic commodities in the market at this delicate stage in which the world is holding its breath until the end of this global crisis.”
Madbouly stressed “the necessity of dealing firmly with any practices that some greedy traders do not accept,” especially since the state has been struggling for some time now to provide various types of basic commodities and secure its strategic reserves.
The sustainable development strategy “Egypt Vision 2030” includes several goals directly related to the promotion of the right to food, the most important of which is increasing the agricultural area, increasing agricultural production, achieving self-sufficiency in some strategic commodities, protecting agricultural lands, and developing agricultural techniques, to establish agricultural industrial clusters. Towards sustainable agriculture, taking into account environmental factors, and the development of livestock, poultry and fisheries.