World Bank agrees to give Egypt $500 million to help fund wheat purchases

FILE - A worker collects Egyptian traditional 'baladi' flatbread, at a bakery, in el-Sharabia, Shubra district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Egypt will receive a $500 million loan from the World Bank to help finance its wheat purchases as prices skyrocket because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Bank said Wednesday. The funds, approved Tuesday by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors, aim at supporting Egypt’s efforts to provide subsidized bread to poor and vulnerable households, it said. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
FILE – A worker collects Egyptian traditional ‘baladi’ flatbread, at a bakery, in el-Sharabia, Shubra district, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo)

Egypt will receive a 500 million U.S. dollar loan from the World Bank to help finance wheat purchases.

The funds, approved Tuesday, are to support Egypt’s efforts to provide subsidized bread to poor and vulnerable households.

“This emergency operation comes at a very critical juncture when the food security of many countries is threatened by the fighting in Ukraine,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt Yemen, and Djibouti.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, and the country’s supply is subject to price changes on the international market. The situation in Ukraine has already hiked prices of the grain since both Russia and Ukraine export nearly a third of the world’s wheat.

Around 70 million Egyptians rely on government-subsidized bread, mostly made from imported wheat. Around a third of Egypt’s over 103 million people live in poverty, according to official figures.

The government has been struggling to keep bread prices at their current level and has already allowed private bakeries to increase prices.