EGYPT – The Egyptian government has increased the budget allocation for the agriculture and irrigation sector for the 2020/21 fiscal year by 2% from LE 33.9 billion (US$2bn) allocated in the previous year to LE 34.5 billion (US$2.1bn).
The increase in investment is aimed to enhance the state’s food security and rationalize the food imports through a five-pillar plan, amid the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reports Egypt Today.
The five-pillar plan aims at increasing the cultivated area of wheat by about 201,400 acres bringing the total cultivated area to 3.7 million acres.
According to the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), Egypt being one of the largest wheat importer in the world, purchased 13.020 million tonnes of wheat in 2019 an increase from 12.410 million tonnes purchased in 2018.
Egypt’s wheat production for the marketing year 2020-21 is forecast to jump 1.5% to 8.9 million tonnes from 8.77 million tonnes achieved in marketing year 2019/20, according to a USDA March 2020 report.
The country’s consumption of wheat is also anticipated to rise 1% to 20.1 million tonnes, which the USDA attributes to increased population which will also result in an increase in imports.
Imports for the 2020-21 market year are forecast at 12.85 million tonnes, a slight increase of 0.4% compared with the previous year.
The plan also targets to expand cultivation of oil crops i.e. soybeans, sunflower and peanuts to more than 228,140 acres due to the low levels of self-sufficiency of such crops.
Egypt’s annual oil products imports is estimated at LE 25 billion (US$1.5bn) annually.
The third pillar of the plan aims at improving the productivity of sugary crops without increasing the cultivated areas of sugar cane, while the fourth target is to expand sugar beet plantations in the range of 41,480 acres -622,200 acres.
Increasing the self-sufficiency levels of the strategic agricultural crops is the fifth aim of the government, amid the increasing population and high consumption.
In April, the Ministry of Supply announced that Egypt will build new giant stores for basic commodities across the country to achieve self-sufficiency for 8-9 months instead of 6 months aimed to increase commodity availability in the face of the pandemic.
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