Since the end of 2015, the nation has flip-flopped its policies regarding the fungus, first allowing 0.05% and then requiring zero tolerance for ergot.
Hamed Abdel-Dayem, a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry, told Bloomberg that SGS has been hired to examine imported wheat at origin and arrival ports. The move signals a change from the way Egypt previously handled inspections. Previously, the inspections were carried out by six Egyptian officials, including two from the quarantine department, Bloomberg said.
As the largest importer of wheat in the world, Egypt’s handling of wheat imports has far reaching importance, and scrutiny of the process has only intensified over the past several weeks.
Following three failed tenders, Egypt on Sept. 21 eliminated its zero-tolerance policy on ergot levels in wheat and promised to follow international standards allowing up to 0.05%.
Since the end of 2015, the nation has flip-flopped its policies regarding the fungus, first allowing 0.05% and then requiring zero tolerance for ergot. The confusing and ever-changing policies regarding levels of ergot turned off traders who were unwilling to risk making contracts that could later be rejected.
The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), the state-owned grain buyer, was forced to cancel three tenders, including one issued on Sept. 18, after receiving no offers. The latest tender sought cargoes of 55,000 to 60,000 tonnes of soft and/or milling wheat for shipment from Oct. 16-26.
But there are signs business is returning to normal. After three failed tenders, Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities on Sept. 22 agreed to buy four cargoes of Russian wheat totaling 240,000 tonnes.