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Uh Oh: Egypt Is Drastically Overestimating Wheat Crop


According to the US agricultural attaché in Cairo, Egypt is overestimating by a third or more the yield from this year’s wheat crop. This matters because, first of all, Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, a main food staple for Egyptians. Second, it matters because the government sets import and stockpiling policies based on estimates of the domestic crop yield. The FT has the story:

Failure to buy enough local wheat would not only potentially provoke social unrest in a country where heavily subsidised bread is a mainstay of the diet, but could also force the government to spend scarce dollars on wheat imports. It wants to defer this until later in the year when it hopes it will have concluded a stalled loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Already Egyptians are growing tired of the Muslim Brotherhood government, which has spent all of its time in office making enemies, grasping after more power, and delaying decisions on vital policies, all while the security situation continues to deteriorate.

The wheat crop story is bad, bad news on top of all this. Egypt could be in for a volatile summer—one like nothing we’ve seen yet.

[Image courtesy Getty]

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  • bigfire

    To think, back in Caesar’s time, Egypt is the breadbasket of the empire. Annual grain shipment is what feeds the vast Rome holding and why Caesar have to get involved in the civil war between Ptolemy and his sister.

  • JT

    Bread riots tend to be particularly violent for the ruling party. If French King Louis XVI (I think that is the right king!)could be brought back, I’m guessing he would agree.

    My heart goes out to the Egyptians and the difficult situation they find themselves in. It might be a stretch, might not, but that newer technology written a few months ago about an Australian firm making usable water out of sea water cheaply and using it for agriculture could come in hand.

    Possibly if the Egyptians can withhold their dislike for the Jewish state also, possibly Israeli farmers and their ability to turn the dessert into usable farm land could help the Egyptians in the future too.

    • Fred

      Egyptians ask the Israelis for help? Sure. And after that, maybe Santa Claus will ask the Easter Bunny for help. What we are seeing in Egypt is the natural consequence of the breakdown of the only type of order sustainable in the Middle East, the brutal order of the dictator. But Hobbes was right about at least one thing; anarchy is also unsustainable. Sooner or later, a new dictator will rise, the only questions are when and what kind.

  • Lorenz Gude

    Well this situation sounds to me like a set up for the more radical Islamists – the salafists, to seize power and proceed directly to jihad against Israel. As things fall apart, the Greeks, the Italians and the Hungarians are increasingly voting fascist. I think the Egyptians are in much worse shape and way further down that road.

  • Jim Luebke

    Is Saudi Arabia likely to get involved with famine relief here? If they sent bread to Egypt under the aegis of Islamic organizations, that could give them a large chunk of influence.

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