News / Middle East

    Egypt Food Supply Shake-up Sees Official Referred to Prosecutors

    FILE - An Egyptian woman waits for her breakfast on a street fast food restaurant in Suleiman Gohar market in Dokki district in Cairo, Egypt.
    FILE - An Egyptian woman waits for her breakfast on a street fast food restaurant in Suleiman Gohar market in Dokki district in Cairo, Egypt.
    Reuters
    A shake-up of Egypt's food import and storage authorities has seen an official from its main food buying agency referred to prosecutors over suspected corruption on local rice deals, while the head of its silos and storage holding company was fired.
     
    Egypt is the world's biggest wheat importer, normally buying some 10 million tons a year and while the suspected corruption is focused on rice, the moves come just days after two senior officials from the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) were transferred from their posts.
     
    Traders fear any disarray within GASC could hurt its ability to launch international tenders. GASC has said the re-shuffles would not impact its import activity.
     
    It has also unnerved companies involved in importing grain to Egypt and potentially a small group of global traders that supply them.
     
    “It's chaos, even the people inside GASC don't know what's going on and are concerned,” said an international grain trader.
     
    On Saturday, Supplies Minister Mohamed Abu Shadi had referred the head of the central import administration at GASC to administrative prosecutors for suspected corrupt dealings with traders.
     
    “The case has no relation at all with wheat, it is about dealings to purchase local rice from local traders in which the official had extended traders' deadlines to 10 days instead of a week,” ministry spokesman Mahmoud Diab told Reuters but declined to name the man.
     
    While GASC were not immediately available for comment, rice industry insiders were skeptical about the supply ministry's assessment.
     
    Rice in abundance

    Egypt suspended rice exports in November to meet its domestic needs for a government subsidy program. The country had an exportable surplus estimated at 800,000 tons of rice last year.
     
    Local consumption amounts to around 4 million tons of white rice a year, of which around 1.1 million tons are used for its subsidized rice program.
     
    “It seems odd as there is an abundance of rice available for the local market since Egypt shut the door for exports,” a senior rice industry source said, referring to Diab's comments.
     
    Abu Shadi also sacked the head of the silos and storage holding company and other officials for failing to reach targets set for 2012/13. Diab said it was within the minister's rights to inject new blood into the company.
     
    Two senior GASC officials, dealing with wheat imports and procuring local rice, were moved from their posts a few days ago. Diab said they were still working within GASC.
     
    The changes mark another flashpoint in Egypt's food supply after deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi spent his year in power dramatically reducing wheat imports in a failed attempt at self-sufficiency.
     
    Abu Shadi has said self-sufficiency needs swift action towards increasing Egypt's wheat storage capacity from 1.5 million tons to 6 million tons.
     
    The Egyptian company for silos is responsible for building 50 new ones. The United Arab Emirates, one of the Gulf Arab states that showered Egypt with billions of dollars after Morsi's fall, is funding 25 other silos.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.