(Bloomberg) --

Egypt plans to cut wheat imports by 500,000 tons per year, or about 10%, by eking out more subsidized bread from its grain, Supply Minister Aly El-Moselhy said.

The move comes as one of the world’s largest wheat importers struggles with soaring commodity prices as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Egyptian officials are looking to boost their reliance on local wheat production in a bid to reduce the import bill.

Authorities are calling on millers who produce the flour for the subsidy program to increase the amount of wheat bran used. Food security is key in the nation of over 100 million, where a majority benefit from the subsidized bread, with officials mindful about the possibility of social unrest amid rising inflation and other cost increases linked to a recent devaluation of the Egyptian pound. 

El-Moselhy said Sunday the government plans to import 5 million-5.5 million tons of wheat in the next fiscal year that begins July 1. Current wheat stocks are enough for 5.7 months, he said, and purchases of local wheat are up 12% to 3.92 million tons so far in 2022 compared to the previous year. 

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