Investigative Report: Potato production in Egypt – ‘Export demands increase interest in bio-pesticides’
Jun. 23, 2020
Agriculture is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Egypt. Meanwhile, Egyptian agriculture represents about 12% of national GDP, valued around $250 billion, which is generated through the cultivation of various field- and cash crops.
Being mostly a desert, Egypt is currently the biggest supplier of potatoes to the EU. Surprisingly, all these results have been achieved with low input usage – the average annual consumption of pesticides is said to be much lower than the international average. So, how do they do this?
GROPRO Corp. a US based producer and supplier of biological crop protection products, has recently completed an investigative agricultural tour of Egypt.
Says the GROPRO delegation of specialists who visited Egypt: “The GROPRO team wants to break the stereotypes and show the results of our investigation concerning the potential of Egyptian agriculture. Our company made an exciting trip to Egypt in March 2020. Now we would like to share some insights to prove that Egypt is a high-potential and dynamic agricultural sector.“
Egypt: ‘Turning deserts into agricultural fields’
GROPRO shared the report with Potato News Today, based on the findings of the delegation of specialists who visited Egypt. It is our pleasure to publish it below.
Egypt, mostly a desert, has put together an effective agricultural production, especially in the specialty crops segments. The agricultural region in Egypt is for the most part confined to the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta, with a few oases and some arable land in Sinai. Egypt’s entire planted crop acreage is irrigated, except for some rain-fed areas on the Mediterranean coast.
Due to the poor quality of Nile water, crop protection of crops grown in the irrigated areas is one of the most important factors to guarantee and ensure acceptable future harvest quality (and also product quantity) of all crops grown.
Most Egyptian farming operations and landholdings are not big in terms of scale, with the average size of an average the farm at about 1 ha. The total area farmed annually in Egypt is about 4.83 million ha. The government is working to implement a major investment plan to increase the country’s agriculture area by adding 1.2 million ha through a process of reclamation in the south. Over the past four decades, an area of 370,000 ha of newly reclaimed land has been added to Egypt’s agricultural base.
Egypt is turning deserts into agricultural fields by the intensive use of drip irrigation and modern agri-based technologies.
Annual production of fruits and vegetables in Egypt was about 35 million tons in 2018 (FAO). Among vegetables, tomato, onions, and potatoes are the leaders in production. Egypt is a major exporter of ware potatoes.
Ware potato export
In 2018, Egypt exported over 759,200 tonnes of ware potatoes and became the 5th largest exporter, supplying potatoes primarily to Russia and the EU. In 2019 Egypt took 5% of the global potato export market, Egyptian potato exports were 259.6 million USD in 2019.
Egyptian potatoes are well-known for their good quality because Egyptian potatoes grown in clay or sandy soil. Also the Egyptian potatoes are liked by customers for its ability to long shelf life due to the appropriate level of solidity and sugar. Egyptian potatoes exporting season: starts from middle of January till the end of May.
Use of bio-pesticides in Egyptian agriculture
Taking into account the huge export volume of Egyptian crops to the EU, the quality of Egyptian potatoes becomes an important focal point. The European market has very stringent regulations related to the use of chemicals on food related products.
Despite rapidly growing interest, bio-pesticides are currently not widely used in Egypt. We hope this will change in the near future, and that Egypt will be able to use more bio-pesticides to produce high-quality crops. Currently, vegetable producers and exporters are the driving force of the Egyptian market for bio-based crop protection products.
Talking about main issues for crop protection, the GROPRO delegation learned during their visit to Egypt that the main problems in Egypt are at least the following: mites, soft body insects, nematodes, whiteflies, grey mold (grapes, strawberries), powdery mildew, and a host of other pests and diseases.
We are excited to see how GROPRO products can help in solving these pest and disease issues in the Egyptian agri environment, and we are ready to provide intensive educational support to local distributors and of course also producers.
GROPRO products for Egyptian potato producers
So, the list of the most suitable products of GROPRO products for Egyptian potato producers are as follows:
- Vigilance Nematicide, a product that protects roots, but adds no stress to the whole plant. Trials show that potato plants treated with Vigilance are visibly healthier above ground, and have no evidence of stress after treatments. Also, the product has been proven effective against multiple nematodes species – and is furthermore also safe for beneficial microbes. Vigilance Nematicide is a fumigation replacement option for farmers.
- Reckoning, a control and preventive material that is highly effective for control of fusarium, bacterial rot, and many other bacteria-based diseases that negatively affect potatoes. Reckoning has a zero PHI and is MRL-exempt, which allows for control and safety, ensuring a clean superior potato harvest.
- Wrath was developed to control all soft body insects. Wrath has a high efficacy on leafhoppers, aphids, psyllids, and whiteflies. As with all GROPRO control materials, Wrath is MRL-exempt, and has a zero PHI. This allows our potato growers the opportunity to spray when they need and not before. Wrath works on eggs, nymphs, and adults, providing a total life cycle control.
Egypt is constantly increasing areas of potatoes production and extending export positions. To be competitive in the global marketplace, Egyptian exporters and farmers should have access to the best modern technologies and input products – especially as far as bio/natural farming practices are concerned.
We believe that bio crop protection products will play an important role in the near future to assist in developing the Egyptian potato industry – not only to improve the efficiency of crop production in general, but for farmers to attain better quality products and higher yields.
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