Egyptian supermarkets are stocking everything but sugar.
The country has run out of the sweetener hitting the poor and the sweet toothed quiet hard.
“There’s no sugar. We’re poor people and there’s nothing for the poor. Poor people are suffering. The people are the ones suffering. Those who get paid 1,000 or 1,200 pounds are suffering. If they buy a bag of sugar for 10 pounds, how can they afford anything else? Those who have four kids – what do they do?, asked a frustrated resident, Sobhy Fouad.
Ahmed Mohamed, a shop owner has witnessed the effect of the shortage firsthand.
“People are walking around in the street with jars, asking each other if they can get some sugar to make a cup of tea. That’s how bad things have become.”
The government has set a limit to the amount of sugar subsidised outlets can sell to citizens per month, that’s only two kilos per person.
Ahmed Aly, a resident said, “The sugar is in there [the subsidies outlet], but I told them we’re a family of three. Let me ask you this, how much can every citizen receive? Two kilos of sugar. Two kilos every month, so that we don’t go and buy them from outside [from private stores]. Give me my right, as a person recognised by the state as deserving of subsidised goods. We’re three people. And you give us two kilos of sugar? So, I have to go and buy it for 14 and 10 pounds from outside? This won’t work.”
Egypt produces just over 2 million tonnes of sugar but consumes about 3 million tonnes annually. The gap is filled by imports.
High global sugar prices and rising dollar rates have made it too expensive and risky for many importers to obtain sugar in recent months.
There’s increasing frustration in Egypt as commodity prices rise amid shortages at a time the country is looking to implement further austerity measures ahead of a $12 billion IMF lending programme.
The state is now rapidly increasing tenders to import more sugar.