CAIRO, EGYPT – Egypt, the world’s leading wheat buyer, has increased its purchases by nearly 40% during the first two months of the 2020-21 marketing year compared to the same period last year, Reuters reported.

Sources told Reuters that Egypt’s supply ministry has been instructed to keep six months of strategic reserves in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its ninth month with no sign of ending anytime soon.

Egypt bought 2.4 million tonnes of wheat from international suppliers in July and August, compared to 1.72 million tonnes during that two-month period, according to Reuters.

It noted that about 85% of the wheat purchased by Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) was from Russia, which has said it could impose a grain export quota in the first half of 2021, if domestic supplies begin to dwindle.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service forecasts Egypt to import 13 million tonnes of wheat in 2020-21, which would be a record, topping last year’s mark of 12.6 million tonnes.