Rising temperatures may cause decline in Egypt’s crop production
Courtesy: shutterstock.com

Egypt is likely to witness a decline in the productivity of a number of crops in the next 10 years as a result of rising temperatures due to global warming, according to a study released by the Central Authority for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) on Tuesday.

The study is based on CAPMAS’s estimation of agricultural production for the period between 2014/2015 and 2024/2025, assuming temperatures increase by 1-2C.

The Crop 1C increase 2C increase
Decline in productivity per feddan annually Decline in productivity nationwide annually Decline in productivity per feddan annually Decline in productivity nationwide annually
Wheat From 2.69 to 2.2 tons From 9 million to 8.3 million tons From 2.68 to 2.09 tons From 9 million to 7.9 million tons
Rice From 4.09 to 3.79 tons From 5.8 million to 4.3 million tons From 4.08 to 3.79 tons From 5.8 million to 4.2 million tons
Corn From 3.19 to 2.76 tons Production increased from 7.9 million to 8 million tons due to an increase in planted land From 3.17 to 2.62 tons From 7.9 million to 7.6 million tons, despite increase in planted land

According to estimations from the US Department of Agriculture, Egypt’s annual wheat consumption is 20 million metric tons (MMT), 8 MMT of which are produced locally, and the remainder is imported. Egypt consumes 3.5 MMT of rice annually but produces 4 MMT, leaving an excess of 0.5 MMT.

The government has often resorted to additional imports or land reclamation to offset the decline in production, the study shows.

The Crop 1C increase 2C increase
Reclamation of new land Imports Reclamation of new land Imports
Wheat 73,000 to 990,000 feddans cost US$162m to $2.2bn US$39m to $436m 86,000 to 1.2 million feddans cost US$191m to $2.7bn US$46m to $519m
Rice 35,000 to 166,000 feddans cost US$78m to $369m US$47m to $205m 39,000 to 202,000 feddans cost US$87m to $449m US$52m to $242m
Corn 1,000 to 268,000 feddans cost US$2m to $596m US$1m to $269m 17,000 to 437,000 feddans cost US$38m to $972m US$21m to $458m

The discrepancy between the amount of land required to be reclaimed and the cost of imports is the result of a gradual decrease in production expected over the next 10 years, according to CAPMAS researcher Philippe Fahmy.

Despite the cost of land reclamation being significantly higher than the cost of imports, Fahmy explains that this is a fixed investment that will contribute to long-term agricultural security.

It is anticipated that global warming will result in a global decline in wheat production of between 5 and 50 percent, and 20-30 percent in rice production by 2100, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Egypt represented Arab and African countries at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (Cop22) in November, participating in discussions on how to implement the Paris Agreement ratified in October.

The agreement obliges international cooperations to decrease carbon emissions in order to prevent temperature increases of 2C above pre-industrial rates by 2100. Although Egypt has not ratified this agreement yet, it signed two other important agreements last year, including a decision by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reduce carbon emissions and the Montreal Protocol to reduce hydro chlorofluorocarbons.

Egypt is among the 11 top global contributors to carbon emissions, with expectations of a 300 percent increase this year as a result of heavy dependence on fossil fuels, according to the Climate Investment Fund.

Egypt’s Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy told Mada Masr in a previous interview at the Marrakech Conference that the government is awaiting Parliament’s approval of the Paris Agreement before ratifying it. A study of Egypt’s energy mix strategy, financed by the European Union, is also yet to be completed, Fahmy explained.

Minister of Agriculture Essam Fayed said the ministry established The Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate, which aims to create a temperature forecast network that covers Egypt’s planted land, including previously and newly reclaimed land.


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