Céréalis, the leading French wheat trader south of the Sahara, has been granted a new credit facility by a subsidiary of France's AFD development agency. West and Central African millers, who have turned increasingly to French wheat because of the war in Ukraine, had lobbyied for the measure.
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.
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.
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.