UAE's Janan, Egypt to sign agriculture deal

Deal aimed at boosting Egypt's wheat production

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A United Arab Emirates company will sign a deal with Egypt to cultivate 100,000 feddans, about 42,000 hectares (103 acres), of land with wheat, corn and feed, the official news agency MENA reported Tuesday.

UAE agricultural investment firm Janan will sign the deal with Egypt's Agriculture Ministry next week for the project which will extend until 2015, the agency said.

The land is located in the south west of Egypt in the agricultural development area of East Oweinat and all grain production will be for consumption within Egypt.

The project is expected to produce 350,000 tons of wheat a year all for local consumption, he said.

Egypt, the world's top wheat importer, consumes around 14 million tons of wheat a year and relies on foreign imports for around half of its needs.

The most populous Arab country with around 76 million people, Egypt has a bread subsidy system on which the poor depend and disruptions to the program have led to sometimes violent protests in the past.

The project will be executed over several phases, each phase comprising 20,000 feddans, the agency quoted Mohammed bin Rashed, the president of Janan, as saying.

Calls for self-sufficiency in wheat production grew in Egypt this year. Egypt has been mired in a dispute over the quality of its grain imports since mid-May and has ordered the re-export of around 150,000 tons of Russian, Ukrainian and Australian wheat, citing poor quality.

Janan has already invested $320 million in East Oweinat to grow 6,000 feddans (6227 acres) with green feed and inaugurated an animal feed plant in the area.