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334981

Egypt to release feed from ports following chick culling

By Sarah El Safty

CAIRO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Egypt will release an "appropriate quantity" of feed components from ports every week, according to an agriculture ministry letter to the central bank, following outrage from poultry farmers forced to cull chicks amid a dollar shortage.

The feed shortage has highlighted the impact of an import crunch and dollar shortage linked to both the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine and uncertainty over the exchange rate as Egypt completes negotiations for a new IMF loan.

Around 1.5 million tonnes of corn and 500,000 tonnes of soybeans are stuck at ports, the poultry producers union said in a television interview earlier this week, forcing some poultry farmers to cull chicks they're unable to feed. Videos of the culling have caused outrage on social media.

The agriculture ministry added that a committee will meet every week to ensure the availability of feed, stating that around 500,000 tonnes of corn and 250,000 tonnes of soybeans are needed each month.

Around 62,000 tonnes of soybeans have already been released this week, worth $44 million.

An agriculture ministry spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The war in Ukraine pushed up Egypt's bill for wheat and oil and with it the need for dollars, and depleted tourism earnings from Ukraine and Russia, two key markets.

A loss of confidence in the weakening Egyptian pound and an exodus of local and overseas investors from short-term government debt markets have contributed to dollars running short.

Egypt's importers have struggled to pay for goods, from cars to electrical components to textiles. Although wheat and other strategic goods were exempted from import controls by the country's central bank, around 700,000 tonnes of wheat is estimated to be stuck at ports. (Reporting by Sarah El Safty; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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