Minister of supply Ali Messelhi
The ministry underscored that farmers are obliged to supply one ton of barley rice for every feddan cultivated with rice (which amounts to 25 percent of a typical 3.5-4 ton yield) in accordance with an August ministerial decision to regulate the trading of local barley rice during the current season.
The statement added that the aim of supplying this quantity is to ensure the availability throughout the year of “such a strategic commodity in large quantities and at fair prices either in the supply system or free markets.”
The ministry warned that those farmers reluctant to abide by the decision will not be allowed to plant rice in the following year or disburse subsidised agricultural fertilisers and pesticides needed for all types of crops for a period of one year, noting that they will also be required to pay the cost of the undelivered quantities (EGP 10,000 per ton).
The ministry also said the deadline set for barely rice and white rice traders – including producers, suppliers, distributors, and merchants – to report the volume of rice they have is Sunday 27 November.
This deadline was set in accordance with decree no 166/2022 that was issued recently by the cabinet to regulate the commodity trading in a bid to prevent monopoly attempts and the hoarding of the commodity.
The decree gives traders a grace period of no more than one week – starting Saturday 19 November – to notify the directorates affiliated with the supply ministry of the rice they have, the ministry said in the statement.
Last week, the cabinet said rice would become a strategic commodity, which means that the government is entitled to regulate its trading in the market for a specific period of time as per the country’s consumer protection act.
The decree, which remains effective for three months, penalizes violators – defined as those who stock up on rice and refrain from selling it – with a jail term of no less than one year and a fine between EGP 100,000 and EGP 1 million.
In cases of repeated violations, the penalty will range between two and five years in prison and double the fine set in the first offence, according to the decree.
In recent months, the supply ministry banned the export of rice to “preserve its strategic reserves” and also fixed its prices in local market to range between EGP15 and EGP 18.
Rice production has always been abundant in Egypt, with the government only buying a portion to be sold at lower prices at the supply system for ration card holders.
Egypt is set to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production soon, according to recent remarks by Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi.
The Chamber of Grain Production at the Federation of Egyptian Industries said that 4.5 million tons of rice were harvested in 2021-22, down from six million tons the year before.
The harvest this year should rise to six million tons after expanding the areas slated for rice cultivation, according to the grain chamber.