Egyptian agriculture accounts for 11.3% of the nation’s GDP, making it a significant sector of the economy. Over 55 percent of employment in Upper Egypt is tied to agriculture, which employs 28 percent of all workers. Small farms in Egypt’s agricultural industry predominate, employing outdated methods that do not adhere to international norms (USAID, 2022). The desert covers over 96% of Egypt’s entire land area. The amount of usable arable land, which makes up just around 3% of the overall area, is severely constrained by the absence of woods, permanent meadows, and pastures. However, this little region, which supports 8 people per acre (20 per hectare) on average, is fruitful and is cultivated more than once a year (Britannica).
Egypt’s population boom led to a sharp growth in farming that was practically unparalleled elsewhere. In addition to significant investments in trained labor, commercial fertilizers, and pesticides, there are significant capital invested in the construction of canals, drains, dams, water pumps, and barrages. High agricultural production is a result of strict crop rotation in addition to governmental restrictions on crop kinds, planting dates, fertilizer and pesticide distribution, and marketing. Egyptian agriculture, in contrast to similar emerging nations, is mostly focused on commercial rather than subsistence farming (Britannica).
The main crops farmed in Egypt are wheat, maize, rice, tomato, potato, onion, orange, grapes, dates, sugar beet, sugarcane, wheat, and maize. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, sugarcane would be the most important crop produced in the nation in 2020, with a production volume of 14,913.5 thousand metric tons (FAO). The nation wants to meet the standards for product quality and take advantage of lucrative sales prospects in both local and international markets by using a variety of business strategies (Mordor Intelligence).
Three-fourths of Egypt’s agricultural output is made up of field crops; the other one-fourth is made up of cattle products, fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops. Egypt has two growing seasons, one for winter crops and the other for summer crops. Cotton is the primary summer field crop, using the majority of labor and accounting for a sizable amount of export value. Egypt is the world’s top producer of long-staple cotton (1.125 inches [2.85 cm] and longer), often providing around one-third of the world’s crop. However, the overall output of Egyptian cotton only accounts for a very small portion of the worldwide yield (Britannica).
Potatoes, cotton, and fresh fruit, particularly citrus, make up Egypt’s main agricultural exports to other countries. 3.971 million metric tons were shipped overall from the agricultural sector from September 2020 to June 2021, up from 3.755 million metric tons over the same period from 2019/2020, a 5.7% rise, according to the Agricultural Export Council. During the export season of 2021/22, the Agricultural Export Council seeks to raise agricultural exports by 10%. Increased sales of citrus fruits, beets, and potatoes were the main products that contributed to Egypt’s agricultural exports having a record year in 2021, surpassing 5.6 million metric tons.
In 2020, the construction of more agricultural greenhouses enhanced the output of high-quality pepper and improved its ability to compete in the global market. This helped to increase demand for Egyptian goods abroad, resulting in exports of around 7,500 metric tons worth of goods worth USD 5.8 million during the previous season (Mordor Intelligence).
The market for agriculture in Egypt is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 3.2% over the forecast period (2022-2027). Agriculture came up as the industry that weathered the epidemic the best. The agri-food system in Egypt was less severely affected than other parts of the economy. Due to declining consumer demand, the agri-food system’s non-farm components suffered the majority of harm. Egypt’s government made investments and improvements to the country’s food system, and the industry was able to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s repercussions (Mordor Intelligence).
In 2019, the agricultural sector employed 23% of all workers and contributed 11% to the GDP of the nation. According to the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Egypt wants to boost the agricultural sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to 12% and increase agricultural output by 30% by 2024.
The market is being driven by an increase in the number of activities to assure food security, government programs to increase domestic output, and an emphasis on sustainable and environmentally friendly farming. The 2020-2023 Agricultural Innovation Project is run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) (AIP). The program seeks to advance technological ideas to address several problems in agriculture, including inadequate post-harvest facilities, inadequate marketing infrastructure, and ineffective agricultural practices that reduce farm output and food production. Small-scale farmers in the nation would earn more money if attention was placed on developing creative solutions.
By enhancing smallholders’ competitiveness in the value chain, organizing roundtables, and creating out-grower programs and public-private partnerships to increase output, the government also hopes to bring novel solutions like market links for smallholders. For instance, the Egyptian government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) established an initiative to increase agricultural output with digital technologies in 2019. Farmers may obtain information to manage their crops and livestock more effectively and make better agricultural decisions by implementing digital technologies (Mordor Intelligence).
The main goal of the government’s campaign to increase wheat production was to increase grain crop productivity per unit area (Faddan) by 15% over the course of three years (2015–2017), to raise grain crop productivity from 18.5 ardebs per acre to roughly 20 ardebs per Faddan and thereby increase total production. To raise and improve the productivity of farmers, laborers, pack house managers, and purchasers, USAID built a regional training center to build capacity in the private sector. This is probably going to increase how important agriculture is in Egypt (USAID, 2022).
Several programs and initiatives have been launched by the government to improve assistance for the growth of the agriculture industry. The Egyptian government created the SHARI e-marketing platform as part of the PRIME project, which was part of the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD’s) rapid response during the pandemic. SHARI allowed smallholder farmers to market and sell their products online to lower the risks of exposure and to secure markets for them in case of lockdown and movement restrictions (Mordor Intelligence).
With the help of IFAD financing, Lower (Northern) Egypt’s desert-reclaimed land is being settled, and Upper Egypt’s ancient lands in the Nile Valley and elsewhere are being made more productive. The country’s COSOP (Our Country Strategic Opportunities Program) helps to improve national food security and reduce rural poverty. To aid in the reduction of poverty, IFAD promotes climate-smart policies, encourages more sustainable use of natural resources, and makes use of possibilities presented by the growing private sector’s engagement in agriculture (IFAD).
Egypt has benefited from a variety of regional funds in addition to projects and programs, with an emphasis on soil and water management, gender equality in public policy formulation, creating knowledge-sharing networks, and promoting microfinance for underprivileged rural people. To guarantee that the effect of USAID’s work endures long after programs are finished, it is crucial to empower women and build a robust workforce. This is especially important because over 45 percent of women work in agriculture. Through collaboration with universities, research centers, and agricultural technical schools, USAID improves educational standards and provides students with employment and internships in industrial farms and factories (IFAD).
Egypt was assisted by USAID in raising agricultural output and farmer incomes. Since 1978, USAID has invested $1.4 billion in Egypt’s agricultural sector, assisting more than 500,000 smallholder farmers with technical support, helping them buy land, enhancing farm management practices, facilitating access to financial services, and liberalizing agricultural markets. The USAID strategy supports free-market competition and assists in connecting farmers with domestic and international purchasers to satisfy market demands through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s commitment to combat global hunger and ensure food security. With assistance from USAID, Egypt has raised agricultural export earnings by 1,500% since the late 1990s.
Growing marketable crops that satisfy international standards for export helps farmers in Upper Egypt and the Delta raise their earnings with the aid of USAID’s Feed the Future Egypt Rural Agribusiness Strengthening program. Through this initiative, Egyptian farmers and food processors are connecting to both domestic and foreign markets, obtaining access to financing, and adhering to food safety procedures more consistently. The project also helps Egyptian agribusinesses update their processing facilities, refrigerated vehicles, and water-efficient irrigation systems to modernize their food technology and delivery systems.
The International Food Policy Research Institute is supported by USAID through the Evaluating Impact and Building Capacity initiative, which also supports the digitization of public services and increased public-sector capacity. In Egypt, the initiative helps with rural income development, poverty reduction, food security, and nutrition. Through collaboration with the Ministries of Planning and Economic Development, Social Solidarity, and Agriculture and Land Reclamation, this program continues to conduct policy evaluations and assessments, build digital monitoring tools, deliver training, and provide policy advisory services, building on decades of USAID investments to enhance Egypt’s agricultural and economic policy (IFPRI).
To maximize the utilization of water and land resources while maintaining sustainability, the country’s Sustainable Development Strategy for 2030 places a strong emphasis on boosting agricultural self-sufficiency. This will increase the demand for Egyptian goods. Egypt’s main export markets include the Middle East, North Africa, the EU, and Russia.
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