Egypt limits area for rice cultivation in 2017 to preserve water

Egyptwill decrease land area used for rice production in the 2017 season with a decrease of 34.6 percent, according to a decree issued by the Ministry of Irrigation and published in the Official Gazette on Sunday.

In an attempt to preserve scarce water resources, the Ministry limited the cultivation of the water-consuming crop to 6 governorates covering an area of 704.5 thousand feddans in comparison to 1.076 million feddans in 2016 season.

The only governorates that will be allowed to cultivate rice are Beheira, Kafr El-Sheikh, Daqahliya, Damietta, Port Said, and Sharqiya.

The ministry will provide water for rice fields in the selected governorates from May – August 2017.

Rice, a key stable foodstuff for millions of Egyptians, consumes 9,500 to 11,000 cubic metres water per hectare, a much higher average compared to other crops.

Per the decree, rice production would be banned in unauthorized fields with violators subjected to fines.

Egypt has long outlawed rice exports to preserve stocks for the local market and combat rising prices.

In August, the Egyptian government said it aims to procure up to 2 million tonnes of rice from farmers by purchasing long grain rice at EGP 2,300 per tonne and short grain rice at EGP 2,400 per tonne.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Grain and Feed annual report issued in October, post forecast for milled rice production is at 4.0 million metric tonnes with a post forecast for rice consumption at 3.5 million metric tonnes in 2016/17.

In recent months, rice has been among the essential food stuff facing price hikes as a result of low supply due to traders holding stock.

Earlier in October, Egypt’s Supply Ministry Mohamed Ali El-Sheikh said the government will hold an international tender for rice seeking to purchase a minimum of 500,000 tonnes in order to secure rations for consumers who receive food subsidies.

The minister said during a press conference on sugar scarcity last week that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered the managing of essential foodstuff reserves to cover six months.

Source: Ahram Online