CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt, traditionally a rice exporter, has contracted to purchase 20,000 tonnes of Indian rice, a cabinet statement said on Wednesday.
The government statement did not explain why it had contracted to buy the rice. But in December, the government had said it would import rice after cancelling a tender to buy locally produced rice when the bidding companies all offered higher prices than the government had asked for.
Egypt's 2016 rice paddy production is estimated at 5.1 million metric tonnes versus annual consumption of about 3.95 million tonnes, a United States Department of Agriculture report in October stated.
In March, the government reached an agreement with private rice mills to produce white rice, potentially ending a standoff over the buying price of last year's crop that has led to millions of tonnes of paddy sitting idle since the harvest.
The supply ministry said at the time it had agreed to pay private mills 6.3 Egyptian pounds ($0.3784) per kilogram of white rice, which the government would then sell at its outlets for 6.5 Egyptian pounds.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; writing by Amina Ismail. Editing by Jane Merriman)