Sustainable Agricultural Development across Value Chains
Agriculture is a major component of the Egyptian economy, contributing up to 14.5 percent of GDP and 28 percent of all jobs, including 45 percent of all women in the workforce. The sector is dominated by small farms, which use traditional practices that do not comply with internationally recognized standards. As a result, farmers experience increased production costs, reduced yields, decreased soil fertility and limited marketing opportunities. The Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support Project (FAS) is implemented by CNFA and funded through the VEGA LWA. The program will improve food security and increase incomes for at least 14,000 Upper Egyptian smallholder farmers and small agribusinesses across several crop value chains.
From 2016 to 2020, the program will demonstrate that it is economically and socially feasible to achieve sustained growth in the region through an agricultural value chain approach. This approach will improve horticulture productivity, access to markets, value-adding activities and commercial linkages with input and service suppliers. Inclusive growth in the agricultural sector will increase incomes of smallholder farmers and small agribusinesses, leading to improved health and educational opportunities for women and youth as well as higher household purchasing power.
The market-driven approach of the project is supported by by four interrelated components: 1) improved on-farm production, 2) more efficient post-harvest processes, 3) improved marketing of agriculture crops and products, and 4) improved nutritional status, especially for women and children. In addition to the major components, there are also a number of supporting cross-cutting themes including systems strengthening for input suppliers; agriculture processors and support services; a focus on end markets and demand; an understanding of the role of value chain governance; a market systems perspective; recognition of the importance of inter-firm relationships and stakeholder participation; policy and enabling environment; gender inclusivity; and leveraging proven ICT capabilities to bring interventions to scale.
FAS is currently supporting 10 value chains, target with crops selected based on market demand. Farmers and farm associations already have contracts for onions, green beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pomegranate, table grapes, basil, geraniums, henna and marjoram.
Farmers from several associations have and will receive trainings and continuing technical assistance on using good agricultural practices for high-quality production. Topics covered under the trainings thus far have included: land preparation, fertilizing, integrated pest management, irrigation, seeds sowing, weeding and plant protection, including identifying and mitigating the effects of toxic weeds.
Additionally, in an effort to strengthen capacity of associations and cooperatives to work as market-driven organizations, FAS developed and conducted a negotiation skills training. The training helped lead farmers and boards of directors for cooperatives to better manage their negotiations with buyers and input suppliers and increase their communication with smallholder farmers.
Producers have and will participate in several trade shows to display their products in an effort to reach more buyers, cultivate business relationships and execute contracts for importing and exporting their Egyptian goods.
Feed the Future FAS Farmers Shine in Front of International Buyers
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When most people hear “farming in Egypt,” they think major staple crops such as wheat, sugar and cotton. At the 2017 Food Africa Trade Show, held from April 22-24 in Cairo, Egypt, wheat, sugar and cotton were secondary to the wealth of products and services on display. The football field-sized conference center bustled with buyers and exhibitors selling their products ranging from fish and baked goods to innovations that will improve packaging and transportation efficiency. Now in its fourth year, the Trade Show has come to expect success. Last year’s turnout included 290 exhibitors representing 28 countries and over 10,000 attendees. Although still pending the final report, the 2017 Trade Show is projected to meet these numbers again.
Among the hundreds of exhibitors was the Feed the Future Egypt Food-Security and Agribusiness Support (FAS) Project’s farmer beneficiaries. The FAS exposition area was in the center of the Trade Expo; FAS farmer beneficiaries displaying their unique products lined the interior walkway. One such beneficiary was UD Crops from Minya, Egypt, whose table included stacks of packaged dried garlic and onions giving off a sweet aroma inviting interested buyers to come closer. As they did, UD Crop’s Export Director Moller Awad talked about his company’s innovative equipment used to produce, dehydrate, process and export Egyptian dried vegetables, herbs and spices. A few tables down you would find FAS beneficiary, Oasis Herbs from Beni Suef, Egypt. Oasis Herbs dressed their table with a colorful presentation of orange calendula, yellow chamomile and bright green basil displayed in glass bowls and long stemmed Champaign glasses. Across the large rectangle was Eiat, a company based in Giza, Egypt—home of the great pyramids. General Manager Bahaa Ismail explained the reasoning behind their slogan “Italy for Agri.” Their sundried tomatoes and peppers fuse the rich flavors of Italy with the complex spices of Egypt, creating a product as unique as their catchphrase.
As part of FAS, the producer groups were invited by the FAS team to display their products in an effort to reach more buyers, cultivate business relationships and execute contracts for importing and exporting their Egyptian goods. This activity supports FAS’s objective of improving marketing and agriculture corps and products; which contributes to the program’s overall goal to increase agriculture-related incomes of smallholder farmers in Upper Egypt.
The Food Africa Trade show is one of three Trade Shows the FAS program has participated in over the course of the past year. FAS’s reach is not limited to inside Egypt; the team traveled with beneficiaries to Fruit Logistica Trade Show in Berlin and Gulf Food Exhibition in Dubai to connect these producers with international buyers. Four exporters from Egyptian horticulture traveled with the FAS team to Berlin and held over 40 meetings with potential buyers who were enthusiastic about the opportunity to access the Egyptian market. At the Gulf Food Expo in Dubai, the FAS team, two private sector partners and one farmers association held over 100 meetings with potential buyers. As a result of these meetings, FAS beneficiaries received business proposals from markets in seven countries, a private sector partner received three offers to import green beans in Upper Egypt and three potential contracts were received by FAS farmer associates for frozen and processed vegetables.
But the momentum will not stop there. Through the life of the program, which will conclude in 2020, FAS will continue to develop these linkages, foster relationships and support farmers to execute and carry out agreements to import and export their products. Continuing down this line of success, soon people across the globe will be garnishing their next pasta dish with Eiat’s sun dried tomatoes or topping their pizza with Oasis Herb’s Egyptian basil.