India and Egypt will work together in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved signing of a MoU between the two countries. As per the MoU the two countries will cooperate in areas of agricultural crops, agricultural biotechnology, nanotechnology, irrigation and water management, management of agriculture wastes and management for energy production; food security, safety and quality; horticulture; organic agriculture; livestock husbandry, livestock breeding, dairying, fisheries, feed and fodder production; animal products and value addition. India and Egypt also agreed to work on areas like sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues concerning trade in plant and animal products; agriculture machinery in small scale; agri-business and marketing; pre and post-harvest procedures; food technology and processing; integrated pest management in agriculture; agricultural extension and rural development.
Agriculture is a most important component of the Egyptian economy, contributing up to 14.5 percent of GDP and 28 percent of all jobs. It employs almost 45 percent of all women in the workforce. USAID’s program is focused on Upper Egypt, where over 55 percent of employment is agriculture-related.
The agriculture sector in Egypt is dominated by small farms that use traditional practices that do not comply with internationally recognized standards. For example, farmers tend to overuse and misuse agricultural chemicals and use outdated technologies and tools for land preparation, irrigation and harvesting. As a result, farmers experience increased production costs, reduced yields, decreased soil fertility, and limited marketing opportunities. They are further constrained by lack of cold storage infrastructure, transportation systems, and market information.
By applying the ‘Feed the Future’ approach, USAID/Egypt is addressing these challenges by strengthening the agriculture supply system based on market demand for high value crops, such as tomatoes and green beans. The program is multifaceted with each component strategically complementing the others by enhancing the productivity of the entire agriculture value chain, beginning on the farm and ending when products reach consumers. USAID introduces innovative technologies that enable farmers with fewer than ten acres of land to be more responsive to the needs of local and foreign buyers, leading to reliable, sustainable results. For example, USAID is providing training to farmers to achieve international quality standards certification, thus helping them gain the confidence of exporters. With direct access to the international markets, farmers make nearly twice what they would on the local market.
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Transporting produce to market is challenging due to a lack of cold storage infrastructure in Upper Egypt. Farmers need to ship their produce several hundred kilometers to Cairo in temperatures often reaching above 40 degrees Celsius. To improve the quality of shipments on arrival, USAID is establishing small-scale pack houses closer to farms to enable quick and reliable packaging that can withstand travel. USAID also provides refrigerated trucks to qualified vegetable producer organizations to aid transport of produce from farm to pack house, and from pack house to markets, airports, and warehouses. In this way, farmers can receive higher prices for their crops.
Cooperation between the two countries will also be effected through an exchange of research scientists and experts; exchange of agricultural information and scientific publications; exchange of germplasm and agriculture technology; and conducting joint seminars, workshops, symposiums and other similar activities.
A Joint Working Group (JWG) will be formed under the MoU to enhance cooperation on matters of mutual interest including consultations on bilateral issues.