Egyptian agri investment booms at EEDC

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Egypt

Egypt’s food and agriculture sector saw a boost in foreign investment at the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) this month, with billions of dollars pledged and dozens of projects announced.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture said it had signed agreements to develop more than 282,000 hectares of agricultural land, in addition to an Egyptian-Emirati feasibility study to reclaim 84,000 hectares of land in Kom Ombo. Ten Arab and international firms will take on 197,000 hectares, while 16 Egyptian firms will invest in projects across 84,600 hectares.

The MoA did not provide funding details for these projects. Almost all of the investment pledged from international donors at EEDC identified agriculture as a specific target, along with power and infrastructure projects.

Sudan-Egypt food nucleus

One of the most vocal supporters of Egyptian agriculture projects was Sudan president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who proposed the two countries should become a “nucleus​” for food and animal production projects. He suggested agricultural projects would be able to benefit from a combination of Sudanese land and water, Egyptian expertise and human resources, and Gulf financing.

Bashir also called on Arab countries to invest in Sudanese food production projects, a long-standing and controversial policy in Sudan, which has been criticised for promoting “land grabs​” by foreign investors.

One of the largest specific agriculture projects to be announced was a Japanese-financed initiative to improve irrigation systems in Upper Egypt. The US$49m project will build new regulators for the Dairout City canal, which channels 17% of irrigation water from the Nile.

Soft drink spending

US soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo also revealed significant investments in Egypt. PepsiCo pledged US$500m to expand production in the country, where it said it achieved total sales in 2014 of US$1.2bn, although it was not clear if this investment was in addition to the US$345m joint plans announced last year with Almarai​.

Similarly, Coca-Cola’s pledged investment was originally announced last year​. At EEDC, the firm provided more details for its plans, which include a capacity increase at its Nasr City concentrate plant, opening a new bottling facility by 2016 in October City, and other increases sales, marketing and distribution operations.

The firm also announced a 5by20 programme in Upper Egypt, which aims to empower  five million women entrepreneurs by 2020. The first phase of the project will see it provide business opportunities, along with training, financial aid and other support to 4,000 women in the Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut and the New Valley regions.

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