By Mohamed Abdel Monsef
The sugar factory in Kom Ombo Aswan began receiving the 2015 sugar cane crops last week. Meanwhile, the remaining factories belonging to the Sugar and Integrated Industries Company (SIIC) in Edfu, Qoos, Armant, Deshna, Gerga, Nagaa Hamady, Abo Qorqas and Hawamdeya are expected to begin importing crops sequentially during January.
Abdel Wahab Allam, head of the sugar crops council, said that the sugar cane produce will reach 9.5m tonnes, which is set to produce 1.05m tonnes of sugar. He noted that this year, cultivating 318,000 acres of sugar cane will supply the produce of 250,000 acres to factories, and the produce of 68,000 acres to sugar cane juice stores, black honey production and seeds during the next season.
Allam told Daily News Egypt that factories have contracted with farmers to pay EGP 400 per received tonne, whereby the transport of crops from land to factories will be conducted through Aldecovel, a train especially for sugar cane crops transfer. The other option is to pay EGP 12 per tonne if farmers transport crops by trucks.
He expected a decrease in sugar imports this year to less than 400,000 tonnes compared to 800,000 tonnes in the past three years due to the presence of 600,000 stocked tonnes since last year. He pointed out that there’s an annual sugar production deficit of 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes, whereby Egypt produces 2.25m tonnes and consume 3m tons.
Allam demanded that the cultivation area of sugar cane remain the same in order to preserve industrial investments estimated at EGP 50bn, where molasses, black honey, sugar and bagasse are extracted. Bagasse goes into 27 other industries, such as paper, yeast and particle board production. It is also essential in preserving soil from erosion by wind or flood and helps alleviate the severity of the cold in winter and the heat in summer.
On the large consumption of water, Allam explained that the council has improved the irrigation system and could reduce water consumption rates from 11,000 metres down to 7,000 metres, leading to a higher economic income for each cubic metre of water.
He explained that sugar production companies accommodate up to 50,000 labourers in their factories, and provide from 250,000 to 350,000 indirect job opportunities, in addition to 110 farmers that depend on sugar cane cultivation as a main income.
In a related context, Gamal Abdel Nasser, director of the Kom Ombo factory, asserted that he requires canes that are 11 months old, and that lands should be dried with enough time before harvest to facilitate the work of juice extraction machines. He pointed out that his factory has coordinated with the governorate to provide necessary diesel fuel for the operation of harvest equipment.
Abdel Nasser said that the reason for the farmers’ crowding to import their crops to factories is that they seek to evacuate their lands from canes to start cultivating wheat, noting that the cultivation of 83,000 acres in Aswan makes it impossible to extract juice from all of the harvest in just one month. Each farmer must commit to the time for his crops scheduled in the contract signed with the factory.
General Director of the Directorate of Agriculture in Aswan Mofida El-Kholy asserted that the governorate has provided service and harvest tractors to farmers, whereby their rental value would be deducted from farms’ dues in order to facilitate matters for farmers.
El-Kholy expected that the size of sugar cane production this year would reach 1.9m tonnes, noting that committees of member farmers in the Cane Producers Association will be formed in order to follow up with importing of crops and resolve obstacles they face during the process. She noted that importing so far has not faced any problems.