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Egypt clamps down on rice hoarders

Egypt clamps down on rice hoarders


Egypt’s government has launched a crackdown on firms it believes are hoarding rice. The action comes in the wake of a shortage of the staple food.

The government has failed to replenish its stock of rice prompting traders to inflate the price of the commodity.

Rice mill owners who appear to be feeling the brunt of the current exercise the most think more needs to be done since the real perpetrators of the activity are rather not being pursued.

“The investigators came here because they were supposed to go after the traders, but instead they are going after the factories and these factories aren’t under the authority of the supply ministry, they’re under the trade and industry ministry,” said Omar Al-Saeed, a rice mill owner who further argues: “We have a permanent license, we have an industrial record, we have a permit from the Industrial Development Authority. But it’s easier for them to attack the mills – the known mills.”

Despite being widely grown in Egypt with farmers producing in excess, the white grain rice has been in short supply for the past two months and prices have surged by about 50 percent because traders are holding back supplies.

Prices of rice are expected to rise even further in the coming months.

The growing shortages and rising prices could impact the government’s budget as a high percentage of the population rely on state subsidies for their basic food.

The government has allowed exports of rice to resume, but its failure to augment its own stock has encouraged traders to hold back supplies in anticipation of a price surge.