With Egyptian rice having good stature in countries like Arabian Gulf and Africa, it has been reported by USDA in Cairo that rice is being smuggled illegally bypassing the nation’s licensing program which limits the rice exports in hope of reduce high prices within home.
In measure to serve the food subsidy program, Egypt prohibited rice exports in 2011 but permitted rice export through an export licensing system in September 2012. But however till date the Government of Egypt (GoE) has not exported rice under the licensing system and hence the Minister of Supply and Trade (MoSIT) has declared to lift the ban by March 2014 in order to revive the economy.
Currently GoE required 1.3 million tons of rice yearly to fulfill its subsidy program and hence is forced to plan on buying import rice. It has been recommended that Egypt should take a step wherein importing cheaper rice for the domestic market and export its own rice as it can fetch a higher price than imports from some cheaper origin markets, like Asia.
It has been reported that dissolving the rice export ban will encourage the farmers to expand area in order to increase the production as farmers tend to get a profit as in international market Egyptian rice is sold at around $900 per ton in international market allowing them to retain profits and use better agriculture practices.
With Export ban in Egypt, U.S and Russia are getting the benefit by selling to countries like Turkey where earlier Egyptian rice was exported. But still Egypt can regain its power as it is a major exporter to Libya and Iraq.
But local traders are worried that lifting the ban would lead to shortage in domestic market and price hikes. Hence they expect the GoE to adopt a balanced policy that will ensure prohibition of illegal cultivation of rice beyond restricted areas and also allow smooth exports.
Currently the rice production are estimated to increase by about 4.897 million tons in MY 2014-15 from an estimated 4.88 million tons in MY 2013-14 due to slight increase in the planting area to 795,000 hectares in MY 2014-15 from 790,000 hectares in MY 2013-14. But the consumption is also estimated to increase from 4 million tons in MY 2013-14 to 4.1 million tons in MY 2014-15.