Egypt is aiming to double its production of the most legendary Egyptian export, cotton.
The production of the soft cotton once termed “white gold” has slumped in recent years, but is set to rise to 160kg between 2017 and 2018, with the entire manufacture exported. The price is also set to increase to over 3,000 Egyptian pounds per qintar.
Used for luxury bedding, cotton production has fallen since 2011, a time of political upheaval. This coincided with relaxed regulations which degraded the local cotton quality.
Ensuring the Highest Quality
The superior seeds and sunny skies of Egypt enable it to grow cotton with unusually long fibres, which produces a durable and light fabric with a soft touch and attractive sheen.
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In 2016, the country banned all cotton seeds except the very highest quality, shrinking the cultivation area but restoring quality. The aim was to save this historic crop.
This year, the crop of cotton increased by over 90,000 acres from 2016-2017, now seeing 220,000 acres of high quality cotton. This emphasises the farmers’ willingness to increase cotton production, with the government’s financial subsidies expected to continue for a successful 2016/17 crop.
The government also took over distribution of the seeds, which addressed the farmers’ concerns about quality, which was declining under private operators.
The return of cotton to world markets would give Egypt a lucrative export as it looks to relaunch its stalling economy and address its trade deficit.
Exporters, spinners and farmers have claimed a scandal over falsely labelled Egyptian cotton sold, and the Egyptian pound’s weakness after its November floatation has resulted in an increase in demand for genuine Egyptian cotton, reviving the historic industry.
Despite recent forecasts, the production of Egyptian cotton is still trending downwards. The 2016/17 harvest is predicted to be 24% lower than the 2014/15 harvest.
Farmers, who have now shifted to growing other crops such as sugar beet, are hesitant to change to growing cotton again because of the government’s constantly changing policies, and the marketing challenges involved.
The continued financial incentives from the government are a positive sign of its encouragement of cotton growth. The Egyptian government has stated it understands the textile and spinning industry’s needs.