CAIRO, EGYPT — Egypt has announced plans to launch a commodities exchange that will begin trading wheat, rice, oils and sugar in the first half of 2021, Reuters reported.

The exchange was formed to protect small Egyptian farmers and producers and provide the opportunity to make their stocks available to a larger market.

The exchange will have 91 million Egyptian pounds ($5.78 million) in capital and will be chaired by the current internal trade development authority, Ibrahim Ashmawy, Reuters reported.

Ashmawy told Reuters that farmers, producers and traders can deliver their stocks to any of the supply ministry’s certified storage facilities for evaluation and then directly traded on the electronic platform.

Many were surprised that Egypt did not select one of its more competitive crops to trade on the exchange as it is the world’s largest importer of wheat and must also import oils and sugars to support its food subsidy program, Reuters reported.

Commodity prices will be determined by the supply and demand of product, Ashmawy noted.

Some remained concerned about how the exchange will operate as the government usually prices the commodities it purchases from domestic producers, Reuters reported.