Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave the go-ahead for the government's strategy to import rice with the aim of meeting local demands, after limiting the areas allocated for rice cultivation to adapt to a water shortage. The presidential decision, which turns Egypt from a major rice exporter into an importer, came during Sisi's meeting July 8 with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali al-Meselhi.
The meeting dealt with a host of files, including the Supply Ministry's strategy to ensure the availability of essential, strategic crops besides controlling the local market, according to presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady.
In light of this strategy, Sisi agreed to allow rice imports into the country, assigning the General Authority for Supply Commodities to publicize rice in the upcoming year and determine adequate prices for this important crop in cooperation with the Agriculture Ministry.
Rady said that Sisi sent his directives to intensify price control procedures and put an end to the market monopoly and commercial fraud.
Egypt's government officially announced its intent to open doors for rice imports on June 6, when then-Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced that such imports would help provide enough rice stocks so that the majority of citizens can find rice easily.
It is worth mentioning that Egypt's Ministry of Irrigation and Land Reclamation issued in January a decision to decrease area allocated for the water-intensive rice from 1.14 million acres last year to only about 750,000.
This decision came within the framework of the ministry's broader plan to rationalize water consumption in agriculture, which is the largest water consumer in Egypt.
The Irrigation Ministry is grappling with numerous water challenges haunting the country in light of the limited water resources, growing population and the nightmarish, anticipated decrease in Egypt's share of the Nile River following the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.