Egypt aims to increase its agricultural production by 30 percent by 2024 and increase the gross domestic product of its agricultural sector to 12 percent in the same period.
According to Hala El-Said, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development the sector will create job opportunities and increase small farmers income while increasing the country’s exports in agriculture. The agriculture sector will double its export shares to 25 per cent in 2024 from 17 per cent in 2020.
El-Said was speaking during a high-level dialogue on food security in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region hosted by the World Bank entitled “Food Security in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis: Pathways from crisis to recovery.”
The minister said that the agro-food sector incorporates food processing and agriculture as well as related inputs and trade. The agro-food sector makes up around 23.2 per cent of the added value labour in the country and around 24.5 percent of GDP.
The minister noted that besides the negative impacts of the pandemic Egypt still faces challenges in water scarcity and climate change.
Speaking on how Egypt managed the food sector to address the effects of the pandemic, she noted that there was no food shortage or decline in any of the strategic crops during that period. She pointed out that the country managed to ensure food security for the poorest group through many monetary and financial measures which were put in place to cushion the economic impact of the crisis. The most vulnerable groups and families in Egypt also received cash transfers.
As a measure towards the impact of the pandemic Egypt’s government introduced stimulus policies such as a financial package of $6.4 billion at a rate of 1.8 per cent of GDP while the Central Bank of Egypt extended its $6.4 billion programs to cover lending at preferential rates to the agricultural sector.
El-Said noted that agriculture and food production are among the most attractive investments opportunities in the country. Egypt has quality soil and climatic conditions and its geographical location close to the Arab and Europe along with its large participation in trade agreements makes it more attractive.
She also said that the government’s launch of the structural reform program in 2016 emphasized on increasing the productive capacity and competitiveness of the real economy. The program focused on agriculture, industry and Information and communication technology (ICT). It also focused on components of food security such as environmental protection, green economy and dealing with the challenge of population increase.
The minister also said that the government intends to increase water share in the country through improving infrastructure by renewing the national network of water cans at a cost of $5.1 billion, conserving water consumption by modernizing irrigation technology, desalination and providing new water sources such as maximizing groundwater use and reusing wastewater.
To address the food security in Egypt, the government is rehabilitating rural areas through the ‘Decent life initiative which is the largest social protection programs that have received investments worth $45 billion. According to El-Said, the programs aims to modernize rural infrastructure, provide basic and social services Egyptians in the rural area. The initiative aims to cover over 50 per cent of the Egyptian population.
Egypt issued a green bond worth $750 million for five years towards the green economy which was the first bond sale by a government in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Climate Bond Initiative anticipates that the global green bonds, Sukuk and loans will reach $400-450 billion.
In the five months ending May, Egypt’s agricultural exports exceeded 3.3 million tons with citrus fruits, potatoes, onions, strawberries, pomegranates, potatoes, beans, beets, guavas, peppers, mangoes, garlic and grapes being the most exported commodities.
The minister of agriculture and land reclamation, Al-Sayed El-Quseir said that Egypt’s agricultural products were in more than 160 countries and in 2021 there was an increase of more than 250,000 tons compared to the same period in 2020.
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