Interview: Egypt's agricultural exports survive COVID-19 impacts: senior official

Source: Xinhua| 2021-06-28 18:24:49|Editor: huaxia
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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's agricultural exports survived the repercussion of the COVID-19 crisis amid high demands of good-quality products and the opening of new markets, said Mohamed al-Qirsh, the spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture.

"The Egyptian agricultural exports make good indications, and we expect more in the coming few years," al-Qirsh told Xinhua in a phone interview.

Egypt has exported more than 5.2 million tons of agricultural products worth 33 billion Egyptian pounds (over 2 billion U.S. dollars) in the past year while 3.7 million tons of products have been exported since the beginning of 2021, according to a statement by the ministry last week.

Egypt exports around 360 different products to more than 150 countries and has opened 11 new markets in 2020, the statement added.

Egypt's agricultural exports constitute 17 percent of the country's total exports of commodities.

At the international level, Egypt has become the first in exporting citrus and frozen strawberry, the third in exporting dried onion, and the first in producing olive and dates, according to al-Qirsh.

The government is very keen to expand the agricultural sector, increasing the planted areas despite the challenges of water shortage, which required more efforts in water treatment for reusing it, said al-Qirsh.

The country implements several projects to develop the agricultural area and increase the production like the project of advancing the field irrigation, reclaiming lands in South Valley and the Sinai Peninsula, he said.

The agricultural official highlighted "the importance of supervising the quality and safety of the products to win the trust of the foreigners."

Many labs have been maintained and others established for meeting the international specifications, he added, noting that random samples of the exported items are subject to pesticide tests to ensure their quality.

He also mentioned using the coding system in all products since putting the seeds in the soil until selling them to the consumers, adding that the government has enforced the organic agricultural law for maintaining the quality of the product.

Thanks to those policies, the COVID-19 crisis has slightly impacted Egypt's agricultural production, as farmers continued to produce more and allowed the country to expand the exports and provide the products at reasonable prices, he said.

From the beginning of 2021 until May, exports of agriculture production increased by 6 percent compared with the same period in the previous year, he added.

Still, opening a new market is the main challenge. "Opening one new market takes at least two years before signing protocol between Egyptian agricultural quarantine and similar institutions in other countries," he added. Enditem