Egypt Independent

No more wheat shipments containing ergot: ministry



The spokesman for Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry Eid Hawash said Friday that his country won’t allow any shipment of wheat that contains even the slightest percent of the “carcinogen” ergot fungus.

Hawash stressed, during a phone-in with the “Sa’aa mn Masr” (Hour from Egypt) talk show on satellite channel al-Ghad, that Egypt has received no shipments containing ergot fungus.

In July, Egypt said it would accept imported wheat shipments containing a 0.05 percent level of ergot, a common international standard, settling a dispute with suppliers that had hampered the country's massive purchasing program.

And a month later Egypt reinstated the ban on wheat shipments containing 0.05 percent of ergot  amount of ergot, baffling traders who had returned to the Egyptian market just last month when the ban was lifted.

A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) risk assessment conducted earlier this year concluded that ergot posed no threat to Egyptian crops.

However, the agriculture ministry said that a follow-up study found that ergot did pose a risk to crops if it entered the country, and that the FAO report had not taken into consideration the different strands of ergot and Egypt's hot climate.

The spokesman for Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry said last night that all shipments coming from Russia and containing ergot have been rejected out of fears on general health of Egyptians.

Hawash added that the Russian side confiscated some Egyptian citrus on allegations it is infected by Fruit fly. He said that reported cases for these infections this year were 4 comparing with 20 during the last year and were accepted by the Russian side.

He confirmed the ministry’s commitment to agricultural laws of every country, adding that “we have nothing harming to the Russian side.”