By Mohamed Abdel Monsef and Ahmed Salama
Director of Agricultural Affairs at 6 October Co. for Agricultural Products Ahmed Maraay told the Daily News Egypt that the total area of wheat production fell to 1,300 acres for the 2014/15 season, down from 3,000 acres during 2013/14.
He explained that one acre produces no more than 20 ardebs [1 ardeb is equal to 198 litres] of wheat and each is priced at EGP 420, meaning that revenues per acre reach EGP 8,400. Each acre consumes seven bags of ammonium nitrates, costing a total of EGP 1,050. One acre will also require two sacks of potassium which each cost EGP 400, on top of an additional EGP 500 for all other types of fertilisers used.
The value of renting the land for six months this year cost EGP 4,750, seeds EGP 300, pesticides EGP 200, and cultivating and harvesting EGP 450, according to Maraay.
He estimated the total cost for cultivating one acre to be EGP 7,750, in addition to labour wages that range between EGP 50-100 per day. He noted that the EGP 650 profit margin is equal to one labourer’s wages for 13 days, and as a result, there is little motivation to grow grain.
Maraay criticised statements made by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Magdy Abd Elwakeel, who said that few subsidies are granted to farmers who own less than 25 acres on old lands and 50 acres on new lands.
Maraay wondered whether subsidies were directed more towards individuals or economic activities.
He also pointed out that large agricultural companies alone make up more than 80% of agricultural exports which must be subsidised in order to maintain Egypt’s share in global markets of export crops, especially those of potatoes, citrus, green onions, and green beans.
Maraay pointed to an unprecedented increase in production costs this season as monthly electricity bills increased from EGP 700,000 to EGP 1.5m, adding that the company depends on electricity to operate its four main irrigation stations and 30 other stations, as well as to provide road lighting.