Egypt is notorious for being one of the oldest agricultural civilizations thanks to the River Nile which has allowed a sedentary agricultural society to develop for thousands of years, one which is accountable for approximately 13% of Egypt’s GDP today. Egyptian agriculture is almost entirely dependent on irrigation since 90 % of Egypt is comprised of desert. Total agricultural land base is around 3.5 million hectares (8.4 million feddans) which represents about 3.5% of the total area of the country.
The climatic differences between north and south have some impact on the geographical distribution of crops, for example, humidity in the Delta suits long-staple cotton, whereas the drier, hotter climate of the south favors the planting of sugarcane, onions, and lentils. The Egyptian agribusiness sector is composed mainly of ten product groups: milk and dairy products, oils and oil by-products, beverages, drinks and bottled water, fruit and vegetable products, confectionary and chocolates, meats, poultries and fish, specialty food and food additives, grinding and flour, and the rice polishing and pasta industry.
The majority of agribusiness exports are targeted towards the Arab world with the leading export destinations being Saudi Arabia and Libya, succeeded by the European Union then Turkey and Iran.
This year alone, the Ministry of Agriculture has allocated 500 million pounds for agricultural projects, as well as creating a new agricultural policy for the state, which is geared towards revamping old plots of land in the Valley and the Delta, as well as exploiting the new reformed lands. In total, the Ministry of Agriculture is looking to reform 4 million feds of land in Egypt by 2030. This in turn has the potential to employ thousands of youths and allow the country to be self-sufficient for wheat, maize, sugar, dairy and cheese. Additional actions within the proposed plan include phasing out subsidies on chemical fertilizers while redirecting the same financial incentives to small farmers. This is to be accomplished by increasing the prices of chemical fertilizers and using the profits to finance small farmers’ cooperatives.