The Agence Francaise de Developpement is to help Egypt to increase its wheat storage capacity. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Egypt has had to buy wheat at high prices and hopes that bigger stocks will enable it to deal better with future supply crises.
The state body that provides wheat for Egypt's subsidised bread programme has agreed to supply private millers to help them through a crisis that has shut most of their mills. But this is a stop-gap measure, with the country hoping that an IMF loan will provide long-term relief.
Through an exceptional call for tenders involving 825,000 tonnes of wheat, Cairo has secured its supplies until mid-October. Of the 14 ships ordered by GASC, the authority in charge of purchasing cereals, six are French.
Egypt is having great difficulty importing large quantities of Russian wheat, which represented nearly 60% of its purchases prior to the war in Ukraine. Cairo is now trying to negotiate with New Delhi in the hope of ensuring a partial lifting of the embargo on Indian wheat.
Faced with a tense food situation and the lukewarm success of their agricultural projects in Africa, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have fallen back on commodities traders such as Louis Dreyfus and Olam. They are also using the traders' Dubai-based teams to help Egypt and other friendly nations struggling.
The trading company Al Ghurair Resources, the second largest importer of wheat to Algeria and a frequent bidder for contracts in Egypt and Sudan, is banking on cereals from the Americas to replace supplies from Ukraine, where it had a subsidiary.
To supply its noodle factories and mills, Dufil Prima Foods has decided to bring Indian wheat to Lagos, a first in West Africa. But to introduce this product further, major logistical challenges must be overcome.
The Casillo family group, the leading supplier of durum wheat to Italian pasta manufacturers, has for several years systematically responded to calls for tenders from the Tunisian cereals office. This has enabled it to bag a swathe of the country's supply contracts since the start of the Ukraine war.
The Elysée is fine-tuning its emergency plan to help countries most dependent on cereal imports, many of which are in Africa. Washington, the West African Monetary and Economic Union, and the World Food Programme are also drawing up plans.
The halt in Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports has opened a window of opportunity for French grain producers in North and West Africa, who in recent weeks have been able to act as substitute suppliers at short notice.
During an official visit to Egypt on 28 and 29 March, the French Minister for the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, discussed several economic issues with Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli.
On 25 October, the Egyptian prime minister Moustafa Madbouli along with six of his ministers will be in Paris to meet with French officials. The delegation will also attend a France-Egypt business summit organised by France's business lobby Medef and meet representatives of a dozen French companies.