Egyp is a country with so much history, the land where the pharaohs lived and ruled, where civilization is said to have kick started. She today, is still a great country though not the world power it once was, it still boasts of its strategic influence in Africa and in the Arab world in particular, and in the world in general. It’s great people are still as welcoming, nice and hardworking as ever.
One of the things that the country is known for is its citrus or orange production and exportation. It has to be noted that only about 5% of the total orange produce in the country gets exported but this is enough to still make it Egypt’s most exported fruit. The domestic market majorly takes care of the rest.
What Makes Egyptian Oranges Unique?
There are various factors that contribute to the uniqueness of oranges made in Egypt, they are:
1. The Climate: Generally, citrus fruits need sunshine to grow well and be of the best quality. Though it might survive a cold environment, it is not too conducive for its growth. In the Egyptian climate, the sun shines all year round which is optimal for citrus growth.
2. The Soil Type: The best soil type for growing oranges or other citrus fruits is the loamy soil. This Egypt has in abundance as the Nile river continuously waters its sandy surface and with the farmer ensuring that the land is well fertilized, the conditions are good for growing citrus fruits.
3. The Irrigation System: Egypt has one of the most extensive irrigation systems in the world. Through these irrigation systems, they draw water from the Nile to water their ground so as to be able to plant crops. These systems have lasted ages (though more modern now) and are largely responsible for the farming done in that country since Egypt, Cairo especially, is highly dependent on this river.
There are two major types of oranges grown in Egypt, they are;
The Egyptian Navel Orange
This type of orange matures the earliest ahead of the other varieties. It is seedless unlike other varieties and is usually very much larger than the others. It can be eaten fresh (many say that’s the best time to eat it as it doesn’t have good juice making qualities). Its season starts from December till the end of February.
The Egyptian Valencia Orange
This variety is not as big as the Egyptian navel but it is the most popularly grown one in the country. It is also the one that is in high demand and which is normally exported abroad. The primary reason for this is because fruit drinks and juice can be made from it.
Today, the country of Egypt is the number one orange exporting country in the world. They mostly supplied to Russia, China, the Middle East and the European Union. This was not so previously, as recently as 2019 Spain and South Africa were ahead of them but by October 2020, they had usurped them all. About 1.8 million metric tons of oranges were exported between 2019 to 2020.
How Did They Manage This Feat?
Devaluation Of The Egyptian Pound
As a condition for the financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Egyptian government had to devalue the Egyptian Pound. This action has buoyed the agricultural sector in general and orange production in particular as it has made them more competitive in the global market. Their deal with China was specifically boosted by this move.
Government Action Plan
The Egyptian Agricultural Export Council and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation put together an action plan which was considered ambitious. This action plan created a framework that farmers had to adhere to for the monitoring and the improvement of the quality of their farm produce. This has resulted in an improved quality of the oranges produced which can now contest quality wise with those from other countries.
Lessons For Other African Countries
One key factor that continues to plague various African countries is the lack of political will by their various governments to intervene and improve the agricultural affairs of their various nation states.
The following steps can be adopted following from the Egyptian model to achieve this
· A comprehensive plan from the government on the agricultural areas of strength in the country
· Educating farmers on the more modern farming methods that will help boost the quality of their produce and their general yield.
· Provision of financial capital to farmers to enable embark on bigger projects than they are used to previously
Egypt is an example of how policies can attract investment to food production and increase trade volumes in agriculture in Africa. In Africa Egypt is benefiting from their proximity to Europe while production in South Africa continues to grow with its advantage as an off-season supplier to the Northern hemisphere.
To expand trade in Africa, countries like Nigeria with great comparative advantage in citrus production must advance their transportation and storage methods to reduce the high percentage of post-harvest loss wastage along the supply chain in a continent grappling with food scarcity and insecurity.