Fears of a looming food shortage are darkening skies over Egypt, a nation already in turmoil.
The country’s 84 million people may see wheat shortages if the expected crop does not yield the 9.5 metric tons that officials have projected. The United States Department of Agriculture expects a mere 8.7 metric tons, which could make for a dangerous situation in Egypt.
With less than two months’ supply of imported wheat stored, the military government temporarily in place after the ousting of president Morsi is weighing its options. If the country cannot grow sufficient wheat to feed its people, the crop will need to be imported. However, funds are low, and though the country has applied for a $4.8 billion loan the International Monetary Fund has yet to grant it.
Foreign currency influx has dropped dramatically since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February of 2011, as both tourism and international investment slowed.
Aside from loans, one of the government’s options is to slash subsidies on food staples, a policy which caused riots when first implemented in 1977.
International officials worry that in an area still undergoing political instability following the 2011 Arab Spring and the recent military coup, a food shortage could worsen preexisting tensions.