Egypt to boost local wheat production to cut on imports

A man harvesting wheat in EGYPT. /AP

by Yasser Hakim

The annual wheat harvest season has begun in Egypt. The harvest this year in the North African country, is particularly significant due to the threats posed by the Russia-Ukraine crisis impacting supplies.

Fayoum governor, Ahmed Ansar says the government is taking strict measures to help farmers supply as much wheat as possible in the state-owned silos to avoid any shortages.

Egypt is the largest wheat importer in the world. It received 12.9 million tons in 2020 out of about 15.5 million tons of annual consumption. 80 percent of its wheat supply comes from Russia and Ukraine. But the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has caused a shortage in supply and doubled the prices of wheat globally. In response, the Egyptian government is accelerating efforts to diversify its sources of wheat.

Professor Rabie Mostafa, with the Agricultural Research Center, says that increasing the amount of wheat grown in the country is part of that effort.

A man harvesting wheat in Egypt. /AP

“The strategy by the state is based on two dimensions. The first is a horizontal expansion that aims at increasing wheat cultivation in empty lands, without replacing other crops. The second dimension involves upscaling efforts to increase yield from the same area of land by using new high-quality and high-producing seeds that we are developing here,” Mostafa says. “So we will increase local production and reduce the import of seeds. We also introduce modern irrigation systems that save water consumption by nearly 40 percent for the farmers,”

A man harvesting wheat in EGYPT. /AP

Egypt’s wheat production is expected to jump by 11 percent year on year to reach 6 million tons.

Ahmed Abdel Fadeel is one of the farmers who is aiding in reaching this objective as he cultivates 62 acres of wheat on his land. He says the government’s technical and financial support has been vital in raising production by farmers.

“The state is providing us with good quality fertilizers at subsidized prices and is promptly solving our daily problems. This year they raised purchase prices by 165 pounds, which is over 20 percent from the price of 725 pounds. This is very important because the financial incentive is a big driver for farmers,” he says. “Next year I will cultivate 72 acres instead of 62 acres this year.”

The Egyptian government has announced plans to cut wheat imports by 8 percent in 2023 to reduce dependence on supplies from other countries.