Agriculture and food: the Netherlands and Egypt

The Netherlands has become the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods. Against the backdrop of a very high water use efficiency and with almost no use of pesticides, this is a considerable achievement. The Netherlands is for many countries a guiding example for innovation in agriculture.

Climate smart agriculture

Food security is an absolute top priority for Egypt. Development of agriculture in desert areas (land reclamation) and protected cultivation are seen as solutions for the challenges Egypt is facing. One of those challenges is food security in relation to water.

Global climate change will influence existing eco-systems, the high population growth in Egypt will increase the competition for available land and water, and upstream developments along the Nile in water management are all factors that might increase Egypt’s need for water.

The Netherlands is sharing it’s knowledge for optimizing agricultural practices, like water efficient greenhouses which use only 4 liters of water for the production of 1 kg of tomatoes (versus 250 liters in traditional open cultivation in Egypt).

This is done by the promotion of an approach named ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ (CSA). CSA is an approach to transform and reorient agricultural development under the new realities of climate change.

Its principal goal is food security and development, while productivity adaptation and mitigation constitute the pillars necessary to achieve this goal with involvement of all stakeholders.

A Dutch greenhouse under construction in Cairo, Egypt

Protected Cultivation

Many initiatives are being taken to increase the amount of greenhouses. The Arab Organization for Industrialization is becoming a center of expertise for protected cultivation. It now has high-tech greenhouses supplied by Dutch greenhouse manufacturers, while the cultivation supervision is provided by Delphy.

The success of the Dutch greenhouses has led to the decision of realizing another five hectares.

Land reclamation

Since the 1980s, large areas of the desert have been used by the private sector for modern agriculture. The company size varies from 800 to 6,000 hectares. The production of those companies is for a major part exported to the European market and the Gulf region.

Currently, the government is working on a new round of land reclamation, involving 600,000 hectares in the first phase. The total land reclamation area will cover nearly 2 million hectares.

This mega-project is under construction and is mainly based on extraction of groundwater. The Netherlands has a good reputation in the field of land reclamation and therefore, a Dutch consortium led by NAFTC-Africa is advising the Land Reclamation Company of Egypt. 

Area envisaged for the land reclamation project, Quetarra depression, South of El Alamein- Egypt

Agribusiness Forum

In 2013, the First Agro logistics Forum was held in the presence of agriculture minister and presidential economic adviser Abla Abdel Latif. In this annual forum, all new developments in agriculture, aquaculture and logistics are discussed with the stakeholders in Egypt.

The Dutch input is provided by the WUR, the private sector and consultants from the Netherlands.

Aquaponics farm Bustan, beginning of Alex Dessert Road- Egypt
Modern high tech Dutch greenhouse at the premises of AOI, Suez road- Egypt