Agricultural research, extension and the remarkable responsiveness of the Egyptian farmers to research and development (R&D) achievements have remarkably contributed to the Egyptian sustainable agricultural development. This has had a positive bearing on food security for an increasing population. These efforts were further buttressed by the sector reforms, including price incentives, initiated since the mid 1980s even before Egypt officially embarked on its ambitious economic reform program in the early 1990s. Following is an overview of the salient achievements during the period from 1982 to 2001:-

  • The agricultural land has increased from 6.2 million feddans in 1982 to 8.2 million feddans in 2001; a percent increase of 32.2. The cropped area has, likewise, increased from 11.2 million feddans in 1982 to 14.5 million feddans in 2001; or by 29.4%.
  • Annual growth rate of agricultural production has increased from 2.6% in the 1980s to 3.4% in the 1990s and to about 3.8% during the fourth 5-year plan (1997-2002).
  • Strategic food crop yields have increased dramatically over the same period:
    • Wheat productivity has increased from 9 ardabs in 1982 to 18 ardabs/fed in 2001.
    • Maize productivity has increased from 12 ardabs in 1982 to 23.6 ardabs in 2001.
    • Rice productivity has increased from 2.4 tons in 1982 to 3.9 tons in 2001.
    • Sugarcane productivity has increased from 34 tons in 1982 to 50 tons in 2001.

    By world standards, Egypt ranked first in rice, sugarcane and sorghum productivity per unit area.

  • Total Grains have increased from 8.5 million tons in 1982 to 18.5 million tons in 2001. Wheat production recorded 6.3 million tons compared to 2.0 million tons in 1982. Maize production reached 6.6 million tons in 2001 compared to 3.35 million tons in 1982. Rice production reached 5.2 million tons in 2001, compared to 2.4 million tons in 1982. Other grain crops (e.g. barley, sorghum and yellow corn) have also achieved increases in both production and productivity. As a result, self-sufficiency in wheat production has improved, recording about 56% in 2001, despite population growth and high domestic consumption. Wheat productivity gains have reduced the volume and value of wheat imports. Egypt was elected to the chair of the International Wheat Council in 1994 for the first time since the inception of that council in 1949. It is also expected that self sufficiency in wheat would increase to 75% through the increased adoption of high yielding varieties and the expansion of mixing maize flour (20%) and wheat flour (80%) in the production of baladi bread.
  • Sugar production has increased from 649000 tons in 1982 to 1.5 million tons in 2001, thus raising self-sufficiency in sugar from 55% in 1982 to 80% in 2001.
  • Vegetable production has increased from 8.0 million tons in 1982 to about 15.4 million tons in 2001, and fruits production has almost tripled from 2.6 million tons in 1982 to about 7.5 million tons in 2001.
  • Red meat production has increased from 315000 tons in 1982 to 545000 tons in 2001, thus raising self-sufficiency in red meat from 65% in 1982 to about 75% in 2001. Poultry meat production, including the rural sector, has increased from 315000 tons to about 700000 tons over the same period, thus achieving 100% self-sufficiency in poultry meat. Table egg production has also increased from 3.2 billion eggs in 1982 to about 7.0 billion eggs in 2001, thus achieving 100% sufficiency. Fresh milk production has increased from 1.9 million tons to 4.0 million tons over the same period. Fish production has also increased from 200000 tons in 1982 to 750000 tons in 2001.
  • Agricultural exports have increased substantially in 2001. Cotton exports reached about 2.0 million kentars, rice 750000 tons, potato 237000 tons, citrus 300000 tons, onion 175000 tons and peanut about 10000 tons.
  • Mubarak’s Graduates Land Ownership Program adds a social dimension to the agricultural development. About 66000 graduates now own 227000 feddans in 121 new villages in the new lands. A new productive community is emerging as a practical solution to unemployment among young men and women.
  • The annual growth rate of agricultural production has increased from 3.4% to 3.8% during the 4th Five Year Plan. The target is to achieve 4.1% by 2017 through horizontal and vertical expansion and optimization of resource allocation and use.
  • Implementation of national mega projects including, but not limited to, Toshka, Sinai and Western Nubaria.
  • Securing Food requirements (strategic stock) at both national and household levels.
  • Development of human capital in the Egyptian agriculture through continual training and creating new jobs in the agricultural and rural sectors.
  • Supplying the strategic textile and food industries with raw materials.
  • Focusing on integrated rural development with a view to improve the livelihood of peasants and increase their ability to participate in development.

Policies to achieve the set objectives:

Within the State’s overall socio-economic goals, MALR has always been instrumental in formulating and implementing sector policies for promoting and up-grading the Egyptian agriculture, based on:

  • Efficient resource allocation and use, within the framework of an environmentally-friendly, sustainable agricultural development.
  • Livestock and poultry development, based on linkages with the other agricultural production systems including indicative, location-specific cropping patterns.
  • Increasing fish production to raise the per capita consumption to 14 kilograms per annum, through the development of in-land lakes and fish farming.
  • Providing foundation seeds of high quality varieties and hybrids; and supervising the multiplication of registered and certified seeds to ensure varietal purity and stability.
  • Rationalizing the use of agro-chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) and promoting biological control within an IPM strategy. In this endeavor, complete agricultural zones, including the new southern valley, will be dedicated to organic agriculture.
  • Maximizing the comparative advantage in promoting the agricultural exports and improving product quality to increase competitiveness under WTO rules and regulations, Egypt-EU and Egypt-US Partnership Agreements, COMESA Agreement and greater-Arab Free Trade Zone.
  • Supporting scientific research agencies, especially in the field of biotechnology. Likewise, agricultural extension, credit, marketing organizations, cooperatives, rural NGOs, women’s role in rural development are being enhanced to promote private sector-led economic growth.
  • Encouraging private domestic, Arab and foreign direct investment in agriculture to facilitate technology transfer.
  • Expanding Egypt’s land resource base by 3.4 million feddans over the coming two decades. In the meantime soil amelioration, sub-soiling, laser leveling and tile drainage projects are being expanded to improve soil fertility and optimize irrigation water use.
  • Developing agricultural extension programs and building stronger linkages with agricultural research and technology transfer. Extension activities are being expanded to cover marketing, gender, population culture, natural resource base maintenance and nutritional aspects.
  • Building and up-dating MALR’s data base, being accessed by producers, exporters, researchers and other stakeholders.
  • Supporting the Agricultural Crops’ Price Stabilization Fund under the free-market price system. Optional procurement prices are announced for the strategic crops and the cotton stabilization fund is supported in order to keep cotton growers in business so as to meet the demand of domestic and foreign spinners and to protect cotton growers against probable price fluctuations.
  • Increasing edible oil production by expanding the acreage of oil crops (sunflower, soya beans and canola) and setting lucrative optional delivery prices to promote oil crop production.
  • Developing fresh produce production from the existing area and improving the efficiency of the related marketing, exporting and processing operations. This implies encouraging private investment in packing houses and cold chain infrastructure. It also implies the establishment of a Fresh Produce Spot Exchange Market for the benefit of all the stakeholders.
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural development in the new lands, through optimization of resource allocation and use and creation of new jobs in these new communities.
  • Developing PBDAC’s credit policies to incorporate rural projects besides agricultural activities; and promoting saving awareness in rural Egypt.