CAIRO: An official report from the Egyptian Cotton Council revealed that the production of cotton went from 6 million kantars last year to only 2 million this year.
The statement also revealed that the decrease in productivity is due to the decline in the cultivated area to only 300,000 acres. This has also led to the increase of the American and the Israeli Pima in the global markets at the expense of Egyptian cotton.
Egyptian textile factories had to import 1.5 million kantars from the US and Israel to compensate the shortfalls in local production, said the report, as Egyptian factories need about 3.5 million kantars annually.
Agriculture experts described what is happening as a disaster, saying the current policies adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture have led to a collapse in the productivity of many strategic crops.
For his part, Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza said that the decrease in cultivated cotton areas does not spell danger for the yarn and textile industries in Egypt, the official MENA news agency reported.
Abaza explained that the state granted farmers the right to cultivate what they want, so they could get fair returns on seasonal crops, especially after the government stopped setting prices for strategic crops and commodities.
Now local prices are in line with world prices and factories are allowed to import their cotton needs from abroad.
Abaza added that the area allocated to cultivating cotton is expected to increase next year due to an anticipated increase in cotton prices globally, which will encourage the farmers to increase cotton planting.
Dr Jamal Aboul Karam, the former adviser of the minister of agriculture, said that this is the first time for Egyptian cotton to be absent from the world market. He accused the minister of implementing American policy which could only lead to the destruction of this corp.
Agriculture was once the backbone of the Egyptian economy when the population was around 15 million. But now, with a population of 80 million, and a struggling agricultural sector, reports of shortage of once-leading crops are becoming more frequent.
In a previous interview with Daily News Egypt, Prince Abbas Hilmi, senior managing director of Concord International Investments, said, “If you go back a century, we were exporting cotton, similar to the way Saudi Arabia exports oil. Revenues were affected by the price of cotton. We depended on this cash crop. There’s no chance of getting back to that.
“I think we should focus on exporting quality products which the Nile Valley is capable of sustaining. Take advantage of the climate, and grow things that will bring us high return.
In the global economy, cotton is no longer Egypt’s comparative advantage.
“Egypt’s main advantage is its [geographic] position. .The ancient Egyptians had a prosperous economy, they benefited from the country’s physical advantages.