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Egypt’s orange revolution





Egypt leader in the export of oranges
Egypt leader in the export of oranges
EGYPT. In the land of the Pharaohs, citrus production is right at the top of all fruit production. Citrus is still very popular with the public, especially because of its low price (oranges are sold from 2 EGP per kilo, which is about 0.22 euro).

The domestic market therefore accounts for most of this production; exports only represent 5% of the volume. While citrus is still Egypt’s most exported fruit, mainly to Russia and the EU, they also export to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates). Egyptian orange production is around 2.4 million metric tons, of which 63% is for domestic use, 33% is exported and 4% is processed into juice.

According to the agronomist, Hatem Souilem, the climate and soil type primarily explain the breakthrough of Egyptian citrus into a highly competitive market. “Everything needed to produce the best citrus is already here: climate, sunshine all year round, the land, the availability of local fertilizers and nitrogen compounds from the extremely fertile mud (silt) deposited by the Nile, seed quality and healthy plants certified virus-free”. The irrigation system, which depends completely on the Nile, greatly contributes to this growth.

The Egyptians have also been working on new varieties brought over from California and Brazil, to meet market demands, but on the other hand this poses a serious threat to varieties originating in the country, which are tending to disappear.



Subsidies throughout the chain

In addition, the cost of logistics, helped by government subsidies, is reduced compared to Egypt’s competitors.
The government subsidises, among other things, citrus export companies, fuel, shipping and training in new technologies and on top of there is cheap labour and the opening up of this sector to private and foreign investors to create packaging and export companies: “We can therefore sell our oranges at very competitive prices and gain market share, even if we are below our production capacity” says Hatem Souilem. One metric ton of oranges can be offered at 150 dollars less than the other countries. One Emirate company located in Alexandria, is offering Egyptian oranges at $500 per metric ton, for the 2012/2013 export season.

Hatem Souilem thinks that the installation in 2003, of an in-transit refrigeration space at Cairo International Airport is one of the measures that supports the development of the citrus industry: “By improving export conditions, including compliance with chilling methods, this tool allows us to offer a quality product according to international standards, and to reduce losses by 40”.  

Khaled Alkhalaa owns an orange grove in the region of Gizeh, and thinks Egypt can further improve its position globally, provided work is carried out on storage sites, packaging and transport: “The slowness that plagues transport and fuel shortages, are detrimental to the quality of our citrus. We also need more refrigerated lorries to keep the fruit in the best condition”.



Special issue : A new citrus route emerges in the Mediterranean

Special issue Econostrum.info in partnership with Medfel


Safia Ouared, Cairo


Thursday, April 18th 2013



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