Head of the Agriculture Export Council (AEC) Abdel Hamid Demerdash said that an official delegation chaired by the minister of trade and industry and minister of agriculture will soon visit Saudi Arabia to discuss the kingdom’s ban on pepper and strawberry exports with concerned ministers there.
He noted that all Arab countries have lifted the ban on importing Egyptian exports of vegetables and fruits except Saudi Arabia for strawberries and peppers.
“This situation needs to be addressed as the Arab market accounts for more than 45% of Egyptian agricultural exports,” he stressed.
Saudi Arabia issued a decision to prevent the entry of Egyptian exports of agricultural crops, which was followed by some other Arab countries because of issue with some shipments of Egyptian exports.
In a statement to the press on the sidelines of the Egyptian participation at the Fruit Logistica exhibition in Berlin, which ended on Friday, Demerdash said that he is in the process of issuing a decree from the minister of industry and trade obliging exporters to register their farms to facilitate follow-up of their production in the future, where farmers, terminals, and packaging stations will be registered and data will be printed on the packages to track farms in case of problems arising.
He added that the coding of farms will be followed by the establishment of a registry of exporters of agricultural crops and rules will be laid down for exporting, including companies that abide by them in order to attend export training courses and to obtain the GLOBALG.A.P. Certification.
“Coding farms and registering major suppliers is a corrective process aimed at protecting the export markets of Egyptian agricultural crops,” he explained.
He warned of problems that occur in major crops exports as they cause Egyptian products to lose their stakes in foreign markets.
Hence, the AEC adopted strict measures, according to its head, to face problems with exports to Arab countries, especially the establishment of export controls and requirements. He called on exporters to realise that the Arab markets are not the same as before and that they must adhere to export standards and requirements.
Exports of the agricultural crops sector reach about $5bn annually, making it one of the most important export markets.
An exporter and member of the AEC, Mohsen El-Beltagy, stressed the need to face the problems of air and marine transport, adding that many factories have ceased operations following the events of 25 January 2011.
Emad Salem, exports manager at EVA Group, also agreed, saying that the large shortage in the space on the fleet of EgyptAir was a major reason for the loss of many export opportunities.
He noted that air freight operations are limited to two or three companies, which created a kind of monopoly and contributed to the increase in the cost of shipping to $5 per kilometre.
Salem said that the solution is to carry out preparations before the export season begins and that air cargo companies should all declare the available space they have and their schedule, especially as several airlines left the Egyptian market or cut their number of flights.
In this context, Demerdash revealed that the government is currently preparing a study on rapid shipping and the possibility of increasing the number of state-owned vessels that serve the fast-paced agricultural exports.
Samir El Naggar, chairperson of Daltex, said that 2018 will be one of the difficult years for Egyptian potato exports, due to the high global production of the crop and the losses incurred by Egyptian farmers in the market last year, which forced them to reduce their production by 20%.
At the end of the exhibition, tours, and visits by MPs accompanying the exporters, MPs promised to hold a session immediately upon their return to Egypt to listen to details from the concerned ministers and work on solving the problems facing exporters.