Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation ElSayed ElKosayer revealed that the Support to Agriculture Small and Medium Enterprises (SASME) programme has provided loans of EGP 945m until the third quarter (Q3) of 2020.
The funding was given to 11,179 beneficiaries, all of whom are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working in the agricultural sector. A total of 1,295 guarantees amounting to about EGP 1.3bn has also been provided. The programme benefits 34 sectors across 22 governorates.
On Monday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation concluded the joint programme’s activities, organised by the ministry in coordination with the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD) in Cairo.
The conclusion ceremony took place in the presence of Christian Berger, Head of the EU mission, and Fabio Grazi, Director of the AFD office in Cairo.
According to ElKosayer, the programme was keen to develop capabilities in operating banks and provide technical support to beneficiaries in the banking sector and financial entities working in the field of agricultural credit.
At the same time, it aimed to create new effective systems commensurate with the needs and characteristics of SMEs, where 127 training courses were held. A training programme was attended by 2,443 trainees from eight banks, in addition to the awareness and training programmes that were directed to cooperative and civil societies.
The project also provided technical support to develop the value chain for about 525 dairy farms, seven dairy collection centres, and three cheese manufacturing plants. These are located in the four governorates of Beheira, Menoufiya, Qalioubiya, and Gharbeya.
The support looks to raise the efficiency of these farms and centres, and to obtain dairy products that meet the quality standards so that they may compete both inside and outside of Egypt.
ElKosayer added that during the project, two fish farms were designed and constructed in Alexandria, to produce seabream, seabass, and red tilapia. Egypt’s first shellfish hatchery was also established in Ismailia Governorate’s Fayed, in addition to a shellfish farm in Port Said, and two fry acclimatisation units in Port Said and Ismailia.
These projects will help define Egyptian standards for fish breeding, apply best practices for fish farming management in the country, and increase production.
ElKosayer’s comments came during a speech delivered on his behalf by Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation for Economic Affairs and Foreign Relations, Mohamed Zakaria at the programme’s closing ceremony.
ElKosayer emphasised that this project is a new embodiment of constructive cooperation with two of the most important development partners, namely the EU and France, especially after signing the Egyptian-European Partnership Agreement.
He added that the Egyptian Government is always keen to continue working towards strengthening this partnership, which is considered a fundamental pillar to support cooperation between the two sides.
It was set up in order to maximise economic development efforts to reduce rural poverty. The programme includes supporting technical skills and organisational capabilities of poor rural families in general, and women and youth in particular.
ElKosayer highlighted the Egyptian leadership’s interest in the agricultural and rural development sector, especially through SMEs. This is due to the prominent role these projects play in economic and social development and increasing production, creating job opportunities, and their contribution to Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP). Financing has been provided to these projects and is considered the most important factor affecting the programme’s activity.
The minister explained that the SASME programme, which comes with joint funding from the EU and the AFD, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, is one of the first initiatives for such projects in the agricultural sector.
It targets small farmers, small investors, food producers, agro-industries, and the development of value chains for milk and fish. It takes into consideration the encouragement of women and youth, which the state pays great attention to.