Egypt has a rice surplus but with prices surging by around 50 percent the people who need it most are losing out. Grace Pascoe reports.
Rice is a staple food in Egypt. But the price has surged in recent months. Pushing those who need it most out of the market. SOUNDBITE: Retired Civil Servant, Zakaria Awad, saying (Arabic): "It's not even the rice that people want - half the bag is broken rice, and it's five pounds now. The good rice is 6 to 7 pounds." The problem is linked to the government's failure to maintain its usual stockpile. As a result it doesn't have enough rice to supply those who rely on subsidised food. That's left them at the mercy of traders who are hoarding rice and charging 50 percent more than they were two months ago. SOUNDBITE: Unicom For Investment And Development Managing Director, Adham El Welely, saying (Arabic) "The traders see that the government will eventually agree to buy their goods. So, the majority have started buying, milling and storing it." Tens of millions of people in Egypt rely on state subsidies for their basic food. Economic discontent has stoked public unrest in recent years, helping unseat two presidents. The government's trying to crack down on hoarders because it knows the risks from a hungry and disgruntled electorate.