Co-operative Farming - Maybe.

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Co-operative Farming - Maybe.

Post by Hafiz »

Co-operative Farming - Maybe.

Nasser the great socialist he pretended to be was all for co-operation between farmers and hundreds of co-operatives were established to buy inputs, own silos etc. It all failed because the farmers became victims to the Egyptian disease – rule by bureaucrats who don’t care much except for themselves, a deep fear by the government of local initiative and a determination to run the country via strong central command and control.

Not all farms are small or 'controlled' by the government there are large farms owned by the Army (immense farms) and connected persons who are above the red tape but these businesses appear poorly managed the best evidence for which is their sad export performance (low volumes, low prices and they poison customers). Interestingly there appears little export of processed and value added food which might not be all bad given Egyptian management problems and poor quality control.

In the middle of the food/export market some are trying and thank god none are military/Toshka/1.5 million feddans participants.

The Egyptian Growers Association (EGO) was established a few years ago on a novel and clever model. It produces citrus, dates, grapes, pomegranates, mango, green beans, pumpkin and strawberry from 5 farms, each independently owned (?), across Egypt. There are 5 partners (?) including Odeissy Farms (2 of them 620 feddans) in Luxor. I’m not convinced that the products grown are the best choices for highest return in the west and maybe they have done what Egypt usually does – go for the easy-to-do, low value mass market – as in Tourism.

If it is what it seems then it has the benefit of sourcing product from various regions according to seasons, the money to do marketing, the scale in each case to use modern machinery/plant species/modern inputs/refrigeration and the initiative and self reliance that produces productivity. Product is intended for export but some may be sold locally – its unclear.

Haggan Farms at Wadi Natrun, part of EGO, seems to be owned by someone with an ‘interesting’ surname who spent most of his life in the west working for top firms. Maybe its his retirement plan/new career. The Marei Orchards in Behna is doing things most don’t – tracking down the best species for his climate – something the government agricultural research body fell asleep on 70 years ago.

At the very least it’s a better business model than stand alone small scale wheat, rice and sugar cane and there has been little money in the sugar market for a long time. These products require higher capital inputs, more complex bulk handling systems and are subject to more price volatility that the ones EGO grows.

The problem, here and Egypt, is that small medium sized producers find it near impossible to get into the bulk purchase contracts of supermarkets and the 100,000 staff of the Egyptian Department of Agriculture lack the energy, initiative and brains to set up and run either a marketing system or a larger system than EGO to assemble the volumes and the quality from hundreds of accredited farms and do deals with western supermarkets.

If you can’t make family/small/medium farms profitable then corporate farms will take over leading to millions of unemployed so you would think the Government would be interested in fresh approaches like EGO – but no. It’s a government obsessed with upper class housing, a new capital city, a space program, a failed Canal Project and low end tourist developments that deliver low end seasonal jobs.

There are few positive stories in Egyptian agriculture maybe this is one. ... f?sfvrsn=2

Their claimed export growth. ... kets-year/ and ... -uk-buyers

The chap running it, Haggan, is very concerned about the poor quality/poor checking of produce and has helped to set up the Horticultural Export Improvement Association in 1996. To show such local initiative (criticize current government efforts) outside the government/Syndicates usually gets jail but shows that he and his friends, unlike the Government and Department, understand that improved quality produces much higher incomes. Seems simple. ... =firefox-b. Their Board has a few young people on it, some dressed in track tops – entirely unlike a government Board. It’s a membership/services organization, which illustrates that the local initiatives/co-ops and Department of Agriculture have largely collapsed in providing services to farmers – particularly young and women farmers interested in change and who show initiative. As ever its safer to wait until the government tells you what to do.

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