Abdel Moneim El-Banna, minister of agriculture and land reclamation, said that the Egyptian government is keen on creating an appropriate investment environment to attract more local and foreign investment from both the public and private sectors, advancing the country’s development and ensuring more job opportunities for youth.
This came during the high-level forum held in Cairo under the slogan “promoting sustainable investment in Egypt’s food security” to discuss investment opportunities in Egypt’s agricultural sector, and in particular, ways to make the sector more efficient and sustainable.
The forum was organised by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank. In addition, the forum came as a collaboration between the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade.
The UN estimates that Egypt’s population will increase by 60% to over 150 million by 2050. Consequently, the consumption of staple food products, including grain and sugar, is set to increase from 2-16% over the next decade.
The forum discussions focused on two key themes: making Egypt’s agriculture more sustainable and supporting the country’s food systems in becoming more efficient, specifically in terms of import supply chains and subsectors with high potential for exports.
Moreover, it included discussing cross-sector issues, such as water and land use, as well as the grain, sugar, horticulture, and poultry-meat value chains.
Bearing in mind Egypt’s increasing demand for grain and oilseed imports for both food and feed, many at the forum identified streamlining phytosanitary and quality inspections, as well as developing port and inland storage infrastructure as viable ways to reduce risks and facilitate investment along the supply chain.
FAO and the EBRD have been supporting the industry through sector research and analysis, as well as supporting policy dialogue, activities, and training.
For her part, Catarina Bjorlin Hansen, EBRD deputy head for Egypt, reiterated the importance of dialogue between the private and public sectors, adding that the EBRD remains firmly committed to Egypt by supporting private sector competitiveness through stronger value chains, resource efficiency, and improved access to finance in agriculture and agribusiness.
During the forum, the FAO and the EBRD announced the key findings of their recent review of the Egyptian sugar sector on improving production and the efficiency of resource use, which points to the potential to reduce natural gas consumption by as much as 40% in some cases, which would translate to considerable gains for the economy.
For his part Simeon Ehui, director of the World Bank’s Food and Agriculture Global Practice, said that the World Bank looks forward to working with the government of Egypt and other partners to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of Egypt’s agriculture.
Meanwhile, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa region, said that the constraints placed on Egypt’s land and water resources by a changing climate definitely forces looking at solutions to make the country’s agricultural sector rigorously efficient.
Finally, the forum also featured the signing of a joint declaration by the government of Egypt and the three institutions involved committing to collaborate on joint activities to further promote sustainable investment in Egypt.