CAIRO – 3 April 2022: Egypt considers planting Genetically modified (GM) seeds to increase the productivity of grain and reduce imports, said Hesham El Hossary, the head of the Agricultural Committee at the House of Representatives.
In comments to the “Al-Jadaan” agricultural T.V. program on Al Kahyra we Al Nas channel on Friday, Hossary said that the crisis of Coronavirus pandemic and the political international situation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict have pushed the state to consider planting the GM products.
Egypt prohibits importing and planting GMO seeds, but allows imports of GM-produced soybeans and maize that have been approved from the country of origin, especially from the United States.
Planting GM crops in Egypt is implemented on a very limited scale as it is based on pollination to get improved strains of plants, Head of the Egyptian farmers’ Syndicate Hussein Abdel Rahman Abu Saddam told Egypt Today on Sunday.
Planting GM crops is not a very easy process as it requires several trials to ensure the safety of the people and for the public interest, he added.
The first legal framework for GM products in Egypt was in September 2016 when the Egyptian Ministry of Environment submitted a biosafety bill that aimed to regulate and control the imports of GM products to safeguard the safety of people, animal,s and the environment.
Egypt is currently suffering from a potential crisis of wheat supply due to the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict as the two countries are the biggest wheat importer to Egypt. So, the government is targeting to increase the area of the wheat crops by 1.5 million feddans over the next three years in accordance with a new study conducted by the Egyptian Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC).
Egypt needs about 18 million tons of wheat annually, with local productivity of 10 million tons of wheat. So, it has been gravely affected by the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict as it gets 80 percent of exported wheat from both conflicting countries.
Obstacles to wheat cultivation in Egypt boil down to the problem of pests, the lack of fertilizers, the increase in the land salinity, and climate change impacts, officials at the Ministry of Agriculture told Sout Al-Omma newspaper on Monday. The government is working to remove these obstacles with multiple, the official added.
Egypt seeks to collect up to 6 million tons of local wheat from farmers this season, which starts in April, Minister of Supply Ali Moselhi said on Monday in the third meeting for the national committee to face the Ukraine crisis’s impact on strategic goods.
The wheat stock in Egypt is enough until the end of this year. However, the government would not stop importing wheat from other countries like France even with high price to fill the gap between the local production and the consumption, head of the farmers’ syndicate clarified to Egypt Today.
Egypt’s Cabinet earlier announced setting the additional incentives ordered earlier by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to encourage farmers to hand their local wheat to the state at LE 65 per ardeb.
As per the directives, the price of wheat ardeb, which is equal to 150 kilograms, will be LE 865, 875, and 885 for wheat with purity percentages of 22.5, 23, and 23.5 respectively.
Egypt has already raised the price of ardeb from LE 710 to nearly LE 810 last year to encourage farmers to supply local wheat.