Aiming for better cotton
EGYPT officially launched an initiative last week aiming to improve the local cotton industry and support farmer livelihoods by adopting more sustainable practices.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is part of the Egyptian Cotton Project funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation to enhance the sustainability, inclusiveness and value of the Egyptian cotton chain.
The BCI programme is being implemented under the supervision of the United Nation for Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Cotton Research Institute in the governorates of Kafr Al-Sheikh and Damietta.
In 2019, BCI initiated a trial project with the Egyptian Cotton Project to train cotton farmers on the BCI’s approach to sustainable cotton production.
“Following a successful trial project and the completion of the necessary new country start-up process, Egypt officially became a new BCI Programme country in May 2020,” according to a press statement by the UNIDO.
The training farmers receive includes how to reduce use of water, pesticides and fertilisers.
As of the 2020-21 cotton season, farmers in Egypt who participate in the BCI Programme may be eligible to receive a licence to grow and sell certified “Better Cotton”.
According to the UNIDO statement, ongoing training to support the implementation of the Better Cotton Standard System by Egyptian farmers and smallholders currently covers essential preparation methods for the upcoming cotton season. However, to ensure the safety of participants during the Covid-19 pandemic, training is being held via digital online platforms instead of in-person field trainings.
BCI is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. In the 2018-19 cotton season, together with on-the-ground partners, BCI provided training on more sustainable agricultural practices to 2.5 million farmers from 23 countries. Better Cotton accounts for around 22 per cent of global cotton production.
French aid for Cairo metro
THE MINISTRY of International Cooperation on Sunday signed an agreement with the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) to modernise the 44km first line of Cairo’s underground metro. The AFD is putting 50 million euros into the project.
Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat said the plan is intended to sustain efficient operational service of the north-south metro line, adding that it demonstrates inclusive stakeholder cooperation between Egypt and its multilateral development partners.
Minister of Transportation Kamel Al-Wazir said the agreement brings the total funding allocated to the renovation of Cairo metro’s first line to 605 million euros.
Ambassador of France to Egypt Stephane Romatet said the project exhibits a new phase in the historical partnership between France and Egypt over the Cairo metro that has lasted for more than 30 years.
Poultry exports allowed
AFTER a 14-year halt, Egypt has been allowed to resume poultry exports, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. Egypt’s poultry exports were suspended in 2006 due to the outbreak of bird flu. Now, Egyptian companies showing no evidence of infection with avian flu virus will be able to export their poultry products, Minister of Agriculture Al-Sayed Al-Qusseir said.
The move came after the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) agreed to officially add Egypt to the list of countries applying the system of avian flu-free establishments. The move is expected to help boost poultry production, support the economy and increase Egypt’s foreign reserves, the minister said, adding that Egypt is currently self-sufficient in poultry and eggs. According to Al-Qusseir, there are 14 isolated avian flu-free establishments in Ismailia, Beheira and Minya governorates.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 June, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly