CAIRO: With progress in Egypt’s agrifood sector, the Dutch Trade Mission in Cairo saw an opportunity: bringing business from both countries together for a matchmaking session.
“The potential of cooperation with the Dutch part is huge; agriculture is [the start] for us, said engineer Tarik Tawfiq, chairman of the Egyptian Dutch Business Club and the Food Industries Chamber.
The Association of Manufacturers of Equipment for Food Processing, Packaging and Bio-based Systems (GMV) kicked off March by organizing this three-day session.
The business participants include manufacturers of growing media and growth stimulating systems, storage systems for vegetables, and systems for meat, potato and vegetable processing.
“Netherlands has been one of the world’s leading countries in food-processing technology. The Dutch industry produces 80 percent of the world’s capacity of poultry processing machinery, 70 percent of cheese production machinery and over 50 percent of potato processing machinery, said Jan Hak, GMV president.
Described by one of the participants as a flagship country for agriculture, the Netherlands has a lot to offer in the technological part of the sector; its industry is equipped to remain a forerunner in the bio-based sector and its machinery helps in producing and packaging food products that meet the highest standards of food safety.
Dr Hans van der Beer, the agricultural counselor at the Dutch embassy, explained that his government is keen on cooperation between the two nations.
“I was particularly impressed by the strong Egyptian presence at the Anuga trade fair in Cologne. It showed that Egypt has a professional approach in strengthening its position on the world food market. Dutch suppliers look forward to cooperating with Egyptian producers, explained Hak in a press release
Agrifood sector in Egypt
With growth figures at hand, industry players in Egypt share an optimistic view despite the challenges facing the sector worldwide.
For the past 10 years, the rate of the world’s crop improvement has been declining. The world now facing the challenge of population increase, coupled with degradation of agricultural land and the impact of climate change.
“We are optimistic people, said Dr Magdy Madkour, the chairman of the technical committee of Agricultural Research and Development Fund (ARDF). “We believe that the human ingenuity finds ways or substitutes to deal with the scarcity of natural resources, he added.
“Despite the global challenges we are now facing, Egypt’s agriculture export sector managed to grow from LE 4.8 billion in 2005 to LE 11.8 billion in 2009, explained Mahmoud El Kaissy, Chairman of the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations (CEEBA).
At the same time, food exports grew by LE 10.8 billion, with expectations of further growth as Egypt’s trade relations with the European Union continue developing.
According to Madkour, Egypt has built its Strategy of Sustainable Agricultural Development (SADS) 2030.
The strategy aims to modernize Egyptian agriculture by achieving food security and improving the livelihood of the rural inhabitants, through the efficient use of resources and the utilization of the geopolitical, agro-ecological and environmental comparative advantages.
Institutional reform within the sector, developing different projects and programs, and improving the agricultural policy patterns within Egypt fall under the strategy’s goals.
It’s believed that this would lead to an increase in exports of major commodities like fruits, vegetables, and ornamental, medicinal and aromatic plants.
In the second quarter of this year, another meeting between Egyptian and Dutch oil and petrol sector is expected.