Bread, an Egyptian staple and daily necessity for the lower class, has naturally topped the list of problems facing President Mohamed Morsi’s government. For some, he has won this challenge, although it took longer than planned.
Morsi’s presidential campaign included 13 pledges, in which stated that the productivity and nutritional value of flour would increase, which would standardise the weight and quality of the loaves. He also pledged to increase the benefits for bakers, and reward to bakeries that managed to improve their performance and bread quality.
During August and September 2012, according to a presidential statement, several steps were taken to achieve these goals, such as installing and operating 9 new lines to produce 300,000 loaves a day.
A report published on Morsi Meter’s, a website that tracked President Morsi’s achievements in the first 100 days of his tenure according to his announced targets showed that after a year, only 3 of his promises were achieved, 7 were in progress, and 3 were not done. The report, which surveyed 3092 internet users between the period of September and October 2012, showed that 14% of urban residents felt that the problems were solved and 25% believed there was a great improvement. In Lower Egypt governorates, 4% felt that the problem was solved, with and 20% considering it to be a great improvement. The highest level of satisfaction was in Upper Egypt governorates, where 19% of voters believed that the problem was solved, and 28% indicating there was a great improvement.
During the month of April 2013, the cash-strapped government of the world’s biggest wheat importer announced it would cut imports by 10%. Hafez El-Sawy, member of the economic committee of the Freedom and Justice Party, explained that the “financial and qualitative corruption” exacerbated a shortage in bread.
“Minster Bassem Auda’s policy was to improve the wheat supply system and raise the price of domestic wheat ardebs from EGP 380 to EGP 400 per ardeb,” he added. El-Sawy explained how the new policies ameliorated the wheat supply system, and succeeded in minimising the volume of the problem. He discussed how farmers have been encouraged to supply wheat, which resulted in a significant increase in the wheat crop.
“Imports decreased from 10mn tons to 6.6mn tons. We have not been importing wheat for the past three months and we will continue not to till next December,” El-Sawy said.
In a speech delivered on May 15, Morsi declared Egypt will stop wheat imports within the next four years, which many have found to be unrealistic.