Egypt reaches target for buying wheat from farmers this season

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, reached its target for this season’s purchases of the grain from the country’s farmers.

The nation bought 4.076 million metric tons of local wheat since mid-April, the Agriculture Ministry said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. That exceeds the 4 million tons it planned to buy. Last season, the government surpassed its initial target of 3.7 million tons by purchasing 5.27 million tons.

Spokesmen for the Supply Ministry and Agriculture Ministry didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment on whether Egypt will buy more wheat. The government typically reports when it has completed purchases and has yet to make an announcement.

Egypt, which spends billions of dollars buying wheat for a subsidized bread program for its 88 million people, annually fixes a price for local supplies above global prices to encourage farmers to grow the crop. The measure also fuels smuggling, as foreign wheat is sold to the state labeled as local grain. Last month, the government issued a ban on trading of imported wheat to try prevent smuggling.