Egypt has more rice than it needs but it cannot be found easily by majority. This has been blamed on traders who are holding on their stock as they expect the prices to go higher following the government’s failure to replenish its stockpiles.
“When we ask the grocer he says there’s nothing but sugar. Every day he says, tomorrow, tomorrow, but we are half way through the month now and it’s not resolved,” said Samia Mohamed, a housewife, at a grocery in southern Cairo.
“The rice is there but it’s being stockpiled, traders are storing it as they can see the prices go upwards and they are waiting to sell at the highest price,” said one trader, who declined to be identified.
The rice is there but it's being stockpiled, traders are storing it.
Despite rice being widely grown in Egypt and farmers producing a surplus, the white grain has been in shortage for the past two months.
The country produced 3.75 million tonnes of rice in 2015, an increase of 700,000 tonnes from the previous year. With consumption of 3.3 million tonnes, that leaves the country with more than one million tonnes.
“This month I could not get any subsidized rice at all,” Cairo resident Sabrine said after returning from a government food outlet empty-handed. “They said we can take juice instead of rice — what are we going to do with juice?”
Previous governments had stock piled between 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes of rice, but the government had refused to buy any reserves.
Imported commodities such as cooking oil have been under shortage. The country has in the past been relying heavily on imported goods to top up other local products.
Egyptian government has in many cases banned rice importation since 2008 causing confusion in the market over lack of clarity on rice policy.