Three model pilot farms have been set up in Tanzania, Zambia and Congo, through an agreement between Egypt’s Ministry of agriculture and the governments of the respective countries. The farms have areas ranging between 500 and 600 acres. Director of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, (COMESA), Department at the Ministry of Agriculture Maher El-Maghrabi said the ministry agreed with the three countries to establish farms to produce various crops.
The ministry is intensifying its efforts, through the centre, to increase the number of farms in all African countries by negotiating with Ethiopia, Kenya, and Eritrea and other states to establish plantations on 600 acres of land per farm to deepen mutual agricultural cooperation. El-Maghrabi said some COMESA countries expressed their interest to benefit from Egypt’s experience in agriculture, which prompted them to submit applications for the establishment of model farms in cooperation with Egypt.
Egypt provides the necessary technology for the development of agriculture in these countries and exports seed varieties that are environmentally compatible with the climate of each country, while those countries provide infrastructure, water resources, and labor for agriculture. “These projects can accommodate large numbers of Egyptian workers, in addition to the possibility of providing agricultural crops cheaply to the Egyptian market,” he said.
Governments and businessmen are counting on the new trade agreements that will contribute to increasing those investments dramatically. Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cairo University Gamal Syam said the trade exchange between Egypt and Africa in the agricultural field is very weak. He explained the high cost of transportation between Egypt and COMESA countries pushes away many companies that prefer European and Arab markets.
Member of the Agriculture Export Council Mohsen El-Beltagy called upon establishing new faster routes among COMESA countries instead of the traditional ones that go through the UAE and Morocco, which brings up the cost of transportation. The cost of transport to COMESA countries is 15-20% more than the cost of shipping to African or Arab states, which hinders agricultural cooperation between Egypt and these countries.