Egypt s Senate . Al-Ahram
Responding to a question on agricultural development before the Senate – the upper consultative house of parliament – on Sunday, El-Quseir explained that the agriculture sector has been flexible enough to weather the coronavirus crisis, even achieving a positive growth rate of four percent while continuing to meet the majority of the country's crop needs, particularly vegetables and fruits.
Not only this, "Egypt's agricultural exports in 2020/21 hit a record of 5.6 million tons, generating $3 billion in revenues (EGP 50 billion) and that these agricultural exports included 350 crops that went to a record number of 150 foreign markets," said El-Quseir.
In addition to its contribution to the GDP, agriculture is responsible for employing 25 percent of the country’s labour force.
El-Quseir, however, indicated that a number of challenges lie ahead for Egypt's agriculture sector.
"The land available for cultivation is quite limited due to the runaway growth of population, the increased loss of agricultural land to building houses, the modest sources of water irrigation, high rates of soil salinity and climate change," said El-Quseir.
Regarding the negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on Egypt's wheat needs, El-Quseir said "this war led to a dramatic rise in prices of several strategic crops, particularly wheat, and also caused a disruption in supply chains."
"In order to soften the blow of this war on our food needs, the government took the initiative of preparing an adequate stock of strategic crops in terms of building 73 silos that can accommodate 5.5 million tons," said El-Quseir, adding that "the government also moved to diversify the wheat import markets to currently reach 22 markets, the last of which was that of India, in order not to be limited to Russia and Ukraine."
He revealed that a shipment of 60,000 tons of wheat is on its way to Egypt from India.
El-Quseir said the use of high-quality varieties of seeds, the adoption of mechanisation on a grand scale, and higher financial incentives to farmers led to raising the rate of productivity of many strategic crops per feddan in Egypt in recent years.
"For example, a feddan cultivated with wheat in Egypt is now producing 2.9 tons, compared to 1.5 tons in many foreign countries," said El-Quseir.
El-Quseir said Egypt's vision for sustainable agricultural development through 2030 aims to achieve greater self-sufficiency of strategic crops, raise the competitive edge of Egyptian agricultural exports in order to be able to tap new markets, minimise the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector, and set up integrated agricultural and rural communities.
"To achieve these objectives, the government will support horizontal agricultural expansion projects, raise productivity of crops, digitise agricultural services, widen the scope of mechanisation, offer soft-term loans to farmers and boost agricultural investments," concluded El-Quseir.