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Egypt appoints new head of agriculture quarantine agency

January 9, 2017 10:12 am

For illustration purpose only. Alamy

* Najla Mousa Balabel named new head

* Agency tightened import regulations on a common wheat fungus last year

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, has appointed a new head to its agriculture quarantine agency, the body that last year threw the massive wheat buying programme into disarray when it tightened import regulations on a common wheat fungus.

The new head is Najla Mousa Balabel, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Balabel replaces Ibrahim Imbaby, who had been appointed to head the agency in March.

The ministry did not give a reason for the change.

Imbaby had replaced Saad Moussa, who insisted that imported wheat should contain zero levels of the ergot fungus against more internationally acceptable standards of 0.05 percent.

This led to decreased supplier participation in government held tenders and a stand-off of nearly a year between the quarantine agency and Egypt’s state buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC).

After a resolution to the ergot problem was reached and the 0.05 percent standard was adopted, a decree was issued in November giving another government body, the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC), the bulk of the responsibility for inspecting wheat and other agricultural products at ports.

GASC has since resumed its regular purchasing pattern of wheat.

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