Head of Agriculture Services and Follow up Sector, Abbas el-Shenawy, told Egypt Today that the government arranged intensive campaigns aiming to control pests in cotton crops, especially after increasing the areas of cultivation to solve framers’ problems in all governorates of the republic.
Kafr el-Sheikh tops Egyptian governorates cultivating cotton
The report revealed that Kafr el-Sheikh governorate came at the top of the governorates in terms of cultivating cotton with a land of 97,000 feddans, followed by Behaira by 56,657 feddans, Dakhalia by 51,352 and Sharqia by 48,349 feddans.
Al-Fayoum cultivated 16,162 feddans of cotton, and Gharbia cultivated 14,237 feddans, according to the report.
Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Abdel Moneim el-Banna said that cultivation of the Egyptian cotton started to recover, referring that the minimum cultivated area reached 130,000 feddans in 2016’s season.
In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture announced it has taken measures to support the domestic cotton sector and increase long-term productivity of the long-staple and medium-length cotton.
The exports of the Egyptian cotton amounted to $462 million in 2016, a report by ITC Trade showed.
Three new varieties of high-yield cotton crop have been registered to suit the local yarn industry and increase its yield by 10 quintals per feddan, Banna added.
According to Banna, a classification map for Egyptian cotton was also prepared and distributed in the governorates, showing the cultivated varieties in each governorate, their productivity, and a map of the cultivars and the approved varieties for each fork.
Cotton exports up 181.6% during Q2 of 2017-2018
Former Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said in May that the government in Egypt is keen on upgrading the system of cotton cultivation and textile industry to better meet demands of the local market and enhance exports.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said that Egyptian cotton exports (from December 2017 to February 2018) increased by 181.6 percent to reach 379,700 tons against 134,800 tons during the same quarter of the previous year.
In its quarterly newsletter for the second quarter of the 2017-2018 agricultural year (lasting from December 2017 to February 2018), the agency said that total consumption rates of domestic cotton reached 47,200 metric kantars (one kantar is equal to 45.02 kilograms), compared to 127,600 metric kantars during the same period of the previous year, registering a decrease of 63 percent.
Bringing Back Egypt’s White Gold Glory
“Before or after cotton” was a common phrase used by Egyptians during the 1920s up until the 1970s, referring to the cotton harvest season.
“Everything in the life of Egyptians was linked to cotton, not only for farmers, but even for landlords who postponed any special occasions after the picking season was over. And many would eagerly wait for [the picking and selling to be over] because they used to tie up all their money in it. Festivals, weddings and even funerals were linked to the harvest season; it was more like a time frame for everything happening in life,” 74-year-old Hanaa Shawky says, recalling memories from her childhood in Sharqiya City. Her generation remembers waking up to the sound of farmers during harvest, singing songs about the “white gold”.
Once the biggest producer of cotton globally, Egypt’s more than 20 million acres of cotton crops gradually started to disappear over the years. Only 220,000 acres of long-staple cotton were grown in 2017, according to official figures.
The number, however, is still an increase from 2011 figures; for instance, 2016/17 saw only 130,000 acres of cotton, the lowest in 100 years. The Ministry of Agriculture expects to double its production in the fiscal year ending this July, whereby it would reach 1.4 million kantar (around 247,000 tons), up from 700,000 kantar in the last fiscal year, and would sell at LE 3,000 per kantar. Policies are currently being formulated to ensure the sector bounces back to its full potential.
Additional Reporting by Farah El-Akkad