CAIRO- Egypt aims to increase its corn farming area by two thirds by the 2018/2019 fiscal year to help reduce the country's reliance on imports, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
It said it targeted increasing the farming area by 800,000 feddans (830,300 acres) to bring the total area to 2 million feddans (2.1 million acres) by the end of the financial year finishing in June 2019.
In July, Agriculture Minister Abdel Moneim Al-Banna said Egypt would offer farmers about twice as much per tonne for their corn this fiscal year - 3,400 Egyptian pounds ($192.96) compared with about 1,700 last year.
The higher procurement price is expected to help boost the total area of corn planted.
Egypt is one of the world's biggest buyers of corn but has been trying to reduce its reliance on imports after a shortage of foreign currency in recent years sapped its ability to purchase from abroad and hampered economic growth.
The country imports 8.5 million tonnes of corn a year for approximately $1.6 billion.
($1 = 17.6200 Egyptian pounds)
(Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Susan Fenton) ((Nadine.Awadalla@thomsonreuters.com;))