Photo taken in Sunday, April 12, 2015 workers take a tea break as other villagers load sugarcane on a rail car, in Abu al-Nasr, about 770 kilometers (480 miles) south of Cairo (AP)
On 21 January during the inauguration of development projects in Beni Sweif, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree to raise the price of sugarcane purchased from local farmers.
The government had originally offered LE620 per ton, but after the farmers’ complaints this was upped to LE720, though the farmers had requested LE850 per ton. The price originally offered by the government was viewed as unfair, since the cost of growing sugarcane has surged due to the high prices of fertilisers and other production inputs, according to a study by the Farmers Syndicate. The study highlighted the fact that 500,000 families depend on growing sugarcane as a source of income. The increase in the delivery price is aimed at supporting farmers and encouraging them to continue cultivating the crop.
Parliament’s Agriculture Committee supported the farmers’ request in a memo presented to the government asking for the price to be increased to LE850 per ton. The memo explained that the total cost of growing sugarcane was estimated at LE26,000 per feddan. A feddan yields between 40-50 tons of cane, Hussein Abu Sadm, head of the Farmer’s Syndicate, said on television.
Egypt’s sugar factories have been supplied with about one million tons of sugarcane since the beginning of the harvest in the first week of January, according to figures from the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade. It is expected that the sugar companies will receive 10 million tons of sugarcane, enough to produce 1.1 million tons of sugar by the end of the season.
The total area planted with sugarcane in Egypt is 325,000 feddans, the majority of which is in Upper Egypt. The production from 255,000 feddans of this is acquired by eight state-owned sugar companies, while the remainder is used to produce molasses. Egypt’s total production of sugar is estimated at 2.4 million tons (one million tons from sugarcane and 1.4 million tons from sugar beet). Its annual consumption is around 3.2 million tons, and 800,000 tons of sugar is imported to fill the gap between local production and consumption.
* This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly