Egypt Chooses Congo for Wheat Growing
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Cairo is eyeing the Republic of Congo to plant Wheat and other strategic crops to cover the country’s food needs amid Egypt’s acute water shortage. Sherif Al-Gabali, Head of the parliamentary African Affairs Committee, said on Oct 17, 2022, that Congolese authorities had allocated 20,000 hectares of arable lands for Egypt in Mossendjo to be cultivated with crops such as Wheat and rice under a friendship agreement between the two countries. “Under the deal, Egypt will get 60% of the produced crops, while the remaining 40% will go to Congo,” he said. “The offered lands are very fertile, and Congo is a water-rich country and does not have an irrigation problem.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has largely disrupted Egypt’s Wheat supply, as 80% of the country’s Wheat imports come from the two countries, forcing Cairo to look for alternatives. Egypt is the world’s largest Wheat importer. According to the state statistics agency CAPMAS, Egypt consumes up to 21 million tons of Wheat annually, around 13 million tons of which are imported. According to AgFlow data, Egypt imported 2.3 million tons of Wheat in Q1 2023. The leading suppliers were Russia (2.1 million tons), the US (88,766 tons), and Ukraine (50,277 tons).
Nader Noureddine, a professor of water resources and land reclamation at Cairo University, said Wheat cultivation is generally weak in the equatorial region, including the Congo Republic. “Wheat is cultivated in areas with cold weather like Russia, Canada, the United States, and Argentina. In Egypt, Wheat is planted in the Nile Delta, while its production in Upper Egypt, where the temperature is high, is poor,” he added.
Mohamed Nasr al-Din Allam, a former Egyptian irrigation minister, said the lack of experienced farmers might undermine endeavors to grow Wheat in the Republic of Congo. “Wheat is not a strategic crop in most African countries, and its cultivation will need well-trained farmers to be able to plant it in such hot weather in Africa,” he told Al-Monitor. He said Egypt’s water shortages hinder efforts to expand Wheat cultivation to provide food for the country’s growing population.
Egypt’s Wheat Output Forecast
Egypt’s Wheat production is forecast at 9.8 million metric tons (MMT) in marketing year (MY) 2023/24 (July – June). MY 2023/24 area harvested is set to remain at 1.53 million hectares (HA) like the previous marketing year. The Agricultural Research Center (ARC) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) announced a Wheat varietal policy before planting, which suits each geographical region regarding climate, water, and land resources.
Optimum Wheat planting dates range between November 15-30 in the Delta, and November 10-25 in Upper Egypt. Wheat production in Egypt has improved through the development of breeding and cultivation practices. The use of these new practices, the spread of new high-yielding varieties, and the raised bed planting method have made the most significant contributions to increased yield.
ARC continues to focus on vertical expansion efforts (i.e., increasing yields by unit area). These efforts include:
· Increase raised bed cultivation of Wheat to reach 460,000 HA in marketing year 2023/24. Raised bed cultivation reduces water consumption by 25 percent, requires 15 percent fewer seeds, and produces a more uniform, higher-yielding crop.
· Using early-maturing and high-yielding varieties; leads to increased water use efficiency and achieving high crop intensification rates.
· Expanding the number of certified seeds and distributing them to farmers to cover 70 percent of the planted area in MY 2023/24 compared to 50 percent the previous marketing year.
· Development of a national Wheat campaign to showcase good agricultural practices across 7,000 extension Wheat fields scattered nationwide to help farmers benefit from newly released high-yielding varieties and their recommended cultural practices package. Use in feed formulation for the ruminant industry.
Other sources: MONITOR
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